Guru Talk: Julie Shean – Metropolitan Museum of Art

Julie Shean - Technical Architect

An accomplished PhD educated Digital Asset Manager working in the museum space, Shean has over a decade of experience with multiple enterprise DAM systems.

What companies/organizations have you worked for as a DAM professional? What was your role at each?

I have been in museum IT for more than a decade and have been involved in the implementation and maintenance of three different digital asset management software products. At the Frick Collection, we started with a workgroup version of Canto Cumulus and subsequently migrated to a larger Xinet installation.

We had originally implemented digital asset management software to help catalog and deliver thousands of images produced for a succession of grant-funded art image projects (AMICO, ARTstor, NEH), but soon realized the benefits of DAM systems for these and other media assets as part of a larger preservation and archival strategy.

Currently, I am employed as a technical architect in the collections information services group at the Metropolitan Museum of Art where I support a very well-integrated implementation of HP MediaBin. Before working with DAM systems, I already had a solid background in database development and administration and art image metadata standards. My technology areas of interest include database administration, web application development, and systems integration in general.

How did you learn DAM? Any recommended sources?

I learned out of necessity during a succession of intense digital image creation and delivery projects. For someone just starting out (or anyone working with DAM systems already) I highly recommend David Diamond’s DAM Survival Guide.

What’s the most important thing for someone new to DAM to understand about DAM?

I think it’s most helpful to see these systems as part of a larger technology ecosystem. DAM systems will not replace existing web content management platforms, asset creation tools, or object or product information catalog databases. Their importance would seem to depend upon how intensely assets need to be reused by people across an organization.

Actually, in that way, I can see many analogies between DAM systems administration and database administration more generally. In each case, your daily concerns depend on the kind of data being stored, the quantity of data being stored, and the access requirements of the business. I am sure that a DAM system software implementation at a broadcasting organization would look a lot different than the same software in use at an art museum.

What is your vision for DAM? What will it look like in 5 years?

I would like to see vendors (or at least their integrators) work harder to speak to constituents in the museum and library space. We often feel like the outsiders, even though it’s obvious that we have plenty of interesting visual material and, increasingly, more and more audio and video assets related to our cultural artifacts.

For example, many museums collect born-digital art.  As consumers of software, we are notoriously reluctant to leave our enterprise systems and we have well-defined descriptive metadata taxonomies. It would seem a great opportunity for a service provider to establish some standards that could be shared across the industry. We have some very specialized requirements—most significantly, the mandate to preserve and facilitate access to our shared cultural history.

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Guru Call: USA

Looking for a Guru in OH, USA. Newbie is an archivist seeking to broaden digital archiving knowledge. Past experience as project manager in educational websites has sparked interest in expanding knowledge of digital assets. Newbie speaks english.

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Guru Talk: Frank Chagoya – Leo Burnett

 

Frank Chagoya - Executive Production Manager

A natural born helper, Chagoya works tirelessly to improve the end-user experience at Leo Burnett.

What companies/organizations have you worked for as a DAM professional? What was your role at each?

I have worked at Leo Burnett for ten years developing, integrating, launching and maintaining DAMs for a number of our clients. Prior to that I worked at Seven Worldwide, where I managed assets outside of a DAM, maintained databases for assets and fulfilled orders to Latin American markets.

How do you describe digital asset management to others?

I usually describe DAM as a repository for approved final assets, such as our ads or creative artwork, with a secure means to deliver these assets to global markets for repurposing.

How did you learn DAM? Any recommended sources?

I learned about DAM the hard way, by performing DAM functions outside of a DAM. I also learned by attending seminars, and webinars, reading literature and networking with DAM representatives and users. Today, you can Google Digital Asset Management and find a plethora of information, websites and networking opportunities.

What’s the most important thing for someone new to DAM to understand about DAM?

DAM is here to stay and evolve, and it is doing so swiftly! DAM has been around digitally for well over a decade and has made some remarkable advances in recent years. It is also expanding across a diverse marketplace. Today it is even more important to push for DAM applications that work better for you and your business needs, such as improved searching, metadata application, delivery applications and reporting.

If you weren’t doing DAM as a career, what would you be doing?

If I had to do it all over again I would probably choose a career it the field of medicine. I enjoy helping people and making a difference in the things I get involved with. That I why I participate in venues like the DAM Guru Program when ever I can.

What is your ongoing greatest challenge with DAM?

Making sure we know enough about the current and prospective end user base, and how we can make DAM more adaptable to them. DAMs are developed to improve workflows, which in turn can lead to a wide variety of end users. This is where change management comes into play as your user base grows so does your need for DAM evolution.

What is your vision for DAM? What will it look like in 5 years?

I feel DAMs will have to evolve further into providing more service in the business arena. For instance, providing digital dashboard applications that can be used by upper management to monitor DAM activities and, efficiencies, as well as other metrics.

What was your biggest mistake with regard to DAM?

In our first DAM development we did not get enough diversity in the end user base to learn how to make the system more effective. However, after our launch we started getting feed back which lead to changes that helped make the DAM more user friendly.

What was your biggest success with regard to DAM?

We experience our biggest success when we launch a DAM for our clients. To have the client realize the value it brings to business, profitability, efficiency, end user adoption and overall workflow gives us a tremendous sense of pride.

What more would you like to learn about DAM?

I think that more and more businesses are pushing for new developments for DAM. Some of these customizations will be hitting the industry mainstream soon. I would like to keep in tune with our industry’s heartbeat and stay on top of these leading-edge applications for DAM. There are a number of websites and blogs that are dedicated to bringing to light these evolving DAM solutions. These venues are making it easier for people like us to be in the know and also to become more interactive with our growing community.

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Guru Call: USA

Looking for a Guru in GA, USA.  Newbie is looking to improve current DAM system. Specifically looking for ways to create metadata for the assets, and any additional tips that might be helpful. Company currently uses the fork system by primestream. Newbie speaks english.

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Guru Talk: Heidi Quicksilver – The Jewish Museum

 

Heidi Quicksilver - Digital Archive Manager

Steeped in extensive experience working with museums, Quicksilver has a clear understanding of what digital asset management means to these institutions.

What companies/organizations have you worked for as a DAM professional? What was your role at each?

How do you describe digital asset management to others?

Making order out of chaos.

If you weren’t doing DAM as a career, what would you be doing?

I love working in the museum world. My original career path was to become a conservator, however my fascination with Digital Imaging sidetracked me. I would probably heavily pursue a career that blended these two things working with 3D scanning, Infra-red and UV photography etc. for condition reporting of artworks. There is a lot happening with new technology to assist in the preservation and restoration of art and artifacts and I would love to be a part of that.

What is your ongoing greatest challenge with DAM?

Getting people to understand that asset management is a full time job. People don’t really understand what happens behind the scenes to make assets searchable and an archive functional so they can’t really understand the time it takes to create a searchable archive full of relational links and rich metadata all based around the business rules and organization of the system users.

What is your vision for DAM? What will it look like in 5 years?

In 5 years everyone will know what I mean when I say “embedded Metadata”.

What was your biggest success with regard to DAM?

My biggest DAMS success was using Piction DAMS to feed almost 100,000 images to LACMA’s new online collection:

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Guru Talk: Margie Foster – Freescale Semiconductor

 

Margie Foster - Digital Asset Management Librarian

MLIS educated, Foster uses her talents in DAM with one of the top 100 most innovative companies in the world.

What companies/organizations have you worked for as a DAM professional? What was your role at each?

I started off as a photo editor using Cumulus at an educational publishing company, Steck-Vaughn/Harcourt.  I was later promoted to Digital Asset Manager when we brought a new digital asset management system in house.   Around that time I attended graduate school and was awarded a Masters of Library and Information Science.

When digital asset management expanded across the Harcourt Corporation, I was named the Intellectual Property Resources Manager and grew a multipurpose department.  I joined Freescale as the Digital Asset Management Librarian after a brief sabbatical to have twins. I manage a DAM system and am responsible for the ensuring quick and easy access to the company’s marketing collateral in rich media file format.

How do you describe digital asset management to others?

I work the library analogy.  I tell folks that I manage a digital library.  It works very similar to a traditional library but with digital files.

What’s the most important thing for someone new to DAM to understand about DAM?

In the public sector it is all about accountability.  While keeping the system users happy with sound metadata structure, prompt research service, and simple finding aids is extremely important, being able to identify who’s  using the system, why,  and how often will allow you to report cost savings in real dollars.

What was your biggest success with regard to DAM?

I loved bringing a new DAM system online.  From initial research, to executive pitch, through the RFP, in house testing, selection, negotiation, implementation and training, was all a fantastically satisfying experience.  It’s an exciting time and the reward in finally having the best system in place is especially sweet.

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Guru Talk: David Fuda – Ethan Allen

David Fuda - Lord of the DAM

Enriched with a photography background, Fuda has taken insights learned and developed a DAM system that works across all spectrums of a global company.

What companies/organizations have you worked for as a DAM professional? What was your role at each?

Ethan Allen Global Inc.

How do you describe digital asset management to others?

When DAM’ing is done right. It is the ability to have corporately controlled assets, wither photographic, line art, audio, video, document, software…etc. Available, to DAM members with an easy search function. In a perfect DAM world, the correct format/rendition is offered to the user of the DAM, based upon the users needs.

Digital Asset Management is also the protection of Rights Controlled assets, such as stock art, or model/freelance photo’g images with a limited use or time. Avoiding embarrassing, legal action that seems to be a growing element of stock agencies income due to use of a rights limited images by layout artist, who don’t read the fine print because their busy making pretty pictures.

Digital workflow should now also be an element of the DAM or at less it is, with proper DAM software.  In my view, having the digital workflow native to the DAM, eliminates the need for the purchase of separate workflow software that would need to be learned by parties that are already members of the DAM and will be familiar with its interface.

How did you learn DAM? Any recommended sources?

Cyberspace is wonderful place to learn all things.  There are DAM blogs, boards, communities and videos to be found with a few keystrokes. The professional DAM community online is fantastic, lots of friendly people willing to offer opinion and advice 99.95% attitude free!

What’s the most important thing for someone new to DAM to understand about DAM?

From an admin side; When speaking to your users, remember they are “users” not “digital interactive media programmers to the 5th level” Make your DAM as welcoming, simple and user friendly as possible.

For new users/members of my DAM; Relax, you can’t break it or delete any assets and on top of that. Within, you will find the elements you need to complete your project so far ahead of deadline. There will be tons of time to surf for funny kitten pic’s online.

If you weren’t doing DAM as a career, what would you be doing?

Groping people as a TSA agent and/or playing poker professionally on a full time basics.

What is your ongoing greatest challenge with DAM?

There are two great challenges that seem to be never ending.

A. Making those that control the checkbook, understand the value of updating 7-year-old DAM software.

B. Making certain senior co-workers, and “senior” in this case is used for some in regards to age and others in regard to position. Understand that the DAM is a user-based system. It is the task of the DAM staff to help you understand how to use the DAM, not too shag images for you.

What is your vision for DAM? What will it look like in 5 years?

It will probably look like an Adobe product. It will be able to provide BIG sharp preview images, with lots of drag and drop interaction with other software or for downloading to a users machine, both PC/MAC.

What was your biggest mistake with regard to DAM?

A rough roll out, not as bad as ObamaCare, but lots of newbie mistakes, we though would be avoided be having a 3rd party implementer head up the initial install.

A couple examples:

Internal IT was not involved till the late stages of install, and therefore felt slighted and acted accordingly when called upon for help.

Metadata fields designed by committee, resulting in development time being burned to make way too many fields that provided repeating data or data of no true value.

What was your biggest success with regard to DAM?

Making resources available to whole depts. with a quick visit to the DAM. Pre-DAM, to obtain even a single image file a work order  had to launch with the Production Dept for a request to obtain copies of a project or images, that sent a production manager on a three-day quest through scatter servers folders or artist hard drives with no promise of finding the requested assets.

What more would you like to learn about DAM?

User interaction, many DAM folks love to tinker under the hood of their DAM and there is a need to understand the tech aspect of DAM software. But the purpose of a DAM is to make assets quickly and easily available to its users. The more we know about what and how users are doing in the DAM systems, the more effect the user interface can be designed, thus the more effect DAMs will be.

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