This article was contributed by DAM Guru member, Lisa Grimm.
Although I’ve been a regular Henry Stewart DAM NY attendee for years, this was my first visit to the west coast’s version of the event, and I was pleased to see that it’s grown to be nearly as large as its east-coast counterpart (with the added advantage of having beautiful November weather). But perhaps the most encouraging aspect of this year’s conference the variety of organizations sending speakers and exhibitors; while I’d seen previous DAMLA programs had been very much media and entertainment-industry heavy, DAM San Diego was very well-balanced indeed. Yes, there were the expected studios and media conglomerates with welcome knowledge to share, but also a wide range of museums, arts and tech speakers. DAM has clearly moved beyond the CPG and advertising spaces, and its importance is being recognized across an ever-wider range of industries.
But while the places DAM is deployed grow ever-more varied, its foundations remain rooted – and rightfully so – in metadata and operations. I was thrilled to be asked to speak on the metadata track, with my presentation on The Seven Circles of Metadata Hell; I suspect everyone in the DAM field has been in the position at some point in their careers where they have been asked to justify the cost of hiring expert librarians and data managers to oversee metadata creation and maintenance, and seeing it continue to get such a focus at every Henry Stewart DAM conference brings joy to my librarian heart. (Did I mention I have my nerdy t-shirts categorized by node and sub-node in my closet? For example, I have Star Wars, Star Wars:Running, Star Wars:Beer and so on, plus Disney, Disney:Parks, Disney:Musicals, Disney:Musicals:Parody, etc. – this is totally normal behavior, even many years after you receive your MS-LIS). It’s such a core part of how DAM works (or doesn’t work, when it’s not staffed properly), and it’s so important that decision-makers understand what they need to do before signing the big checks, and continuing to spread that knowledge underpins the growth of the industry.
And as that growth continues, the range of roles and responsibilities continues to evolve; I very much enjoyed moderating a round table on DAM career options, with people at many varying career levels and from many distinct backgrounds, but it really suggested an opportunity for the wider market: there is a need for DAM-specific recruitment agencies (or, at least, recruitment agencies with someone on staff who really understand the field) and career planning help. Each Henry Stewart event is a great opportunity to continue to build our formal and informal networks, but as DAM professionals, I suggest that we rely on personal recommendations and word of mouth to get to the next role or career level to a greater extent than in most other tech and information management fields. Getting to meet some of the new-to-the-field people in the Future Digital Leaders Program was delightful, and I look forward to keeping in touch with several of them, but making sure we have paths onward and upward at all levels is important as we move the profession forward.
Finally, a personal note to the organizers, who do a wonderful job each time – thank you for pulling everything together once more, and thank you for making sure we had good tea! I never needed to break in to my personal tea stash (yes, I’m that person who brings her own tea everywhere, because finding good tea in the US can be a dicey proposition), and the range of caffeinated and non-caffeinated teas was ideal.
I hope to make it back to San Diego next year, and to return to New York again in the spring. I still have London on my DAM to-do list…