Another DAM Blog

Blog about Digital Asset Management


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What is the life cycle of DAM assets?

Digital assets have a life cycle just like plants and animals. Your organization may acquire, create or even re-purpose digital assets which are:

  • a major milestone in the organization’s history
  • historical (good or bad)
  • required by law or other regulations
  • repeatedly used or requested

What are the signs that digital asset is coming to the end of its life cycle?

Is the asset:

  • Dated (is everyone wearing bell bottoms, plaid and have long sideburns? This could be a sign unless you are covering 1970 revivals)
  • Too generic? Or is it too specific to be of interest to your audience?
  • Antiquated (do you hear dinosaurs roaming or modems dialing for a connection? Or is an abacus the most advanced technology available?)
  • Not downloaded/ordered/requested/used in the past 5 years. (A DAM solution should be able to report the number of times an asset has been downloaded/ordered/requested/used. This is a major indicator.)

If the case is the asset has not been downloaded/ordered/requested/used in over 5 years, it may be time to migrate the asset to an archive outside of the DAM. Or maybe just keep a proxy of the asset in the DAM along with a location/contact for the archive that has a high quality copy of the digital asset. Just keep in mind not to delete all copies of those legacy digital asset  (you know, those assets supposedly at the end of their life cycle), unless required by law or regulation.

  • How many pieces of documentation do you keep for your assets? (This would explain the history and ownership of your digital assets, sometimes known as provenance)
  • How will this content be changed over the life cycle of the asset?
  • How many people do you have accessing this information? (History of the asset as seen from the DAM reports)
  • What is the total value of your asset related projects per year? (Do you keep in mind the value of these projects and assets?)
  • How many people can you afford to have managing this documentation? (This is documented in writing by someone, right?)
  • What happens when someone uses the wrong information? (Do you like errors and inconsistency?)
  • Is any of this a matter of proper version control? (Do you really want to know how many systems fail to have this today? Too many.)

If the digital asset is needed ‘forever,’ consider what file format it is kept in, since this format may not be supported ‘forever.’  These assets may need to be converted into different (more current) file formats. Refer to Another DAM podcast interview with Linda Tadic who speaks about this as well as the time frame to revisit these things.

Consider the same with physical media storage such the evolution of audio from wax cylinders to LPs (33.3 and 45) to 8 tracks to audio tapes to CDs… now on hard drives and portable MP3 players.

How many digital assets do you actively use today?

If you wanted to archive this music, what format do we store this for high quality, everyday listening, or did we all keep all formats/players? Not likely. While some purist may continue to play these antique tools of the past purely for nostalgic reasons, most of these formats do not keep these physically degrading/fading media formats. Instead, we keep the highest quality digital copy of important audio we need to keep. The ones of value. The digital asset.

Consider the same with the evolution of photography:

In less than 200 years, photography went from wet plates to large format to medium format to 35 mm celluloid film then to eventually digital capture. Digital camera sales have surpassed film camera sales for several years now. Some companies are re-purposing their photography infrastructure for something the market actually wants to buy today. Most photographers want to see their images now. Sometimes, even their subjects want to see their image now as well.

When it came to film photography, the photographer often used to hand off the (analog) film for processing and printing to a lab. With digital photography, the photographer often is the lab as well.

Like most digital assets…

We want them now. We may even need them now. For the projects at hand. For the time being.

Our attention span and patience for finite search results (to find the right asset) are constantly getting shorter. We are spoiled thanks to really good search engines and more importantly, their search results. Be sure your digital assets are not just searchable, but found when needed. If these assets can not be found in a DAM, their life cycle is quite limited. Be aware of how to find these digital assets again.

If you need vendor neutral assistance or advice on digital asset life cycles, let us know.

What is the life cycle of your digital assets?

 


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What does context have to do with DAM?


For the readers who have read my blog before, they have seen my writings on quite a few topics about Digital Asset Management (DAM). I mention Digital Asset Management in every place I can think of to reference with the acronym DAM.

Then, there are some people who have not read my blog…ok, maybe skimmed it…but did see the word DAM next to my name.

Recently, I was invited (by email) to present at an upcoming conference type event in [unnamed foreign country] to talk about DAM…to discuss hydropower,hydroelectricity and sustainable energy.

(sigh)

That is not my field of expertise. I talk about DAM, not DAM. Oh, wait. We need some context to clarify this now, do we not?

I will not be attending that particular conference. I respectfully declined the invitation. I also shared some context about DAM (Digital Asset Management) as I do regularly with my insights found on this blog, the weekly podcast series, the eBook and during the Digital Asset Management conferences.

DAM is green. Uh, not unless you configured the User Interface (UI) to be that color. Servers drain power (like a colander drains water) and servers need to be cooled to the Nth degree (also not too energy efficient unless the servers are located in some frozen region). You may have a DAM (Digital Asset Management) system powered by a DAM (the one with the reservoir, lake or river behind it), but not likely in too many areas.

DAM. No, I am not cursing nor swearing. Yet, I know a few people who manage a DAM for some churches. They can say DAM out loud. It is simply an acronym in the field of Digital Asset Management.  I have heard some people prefer saying “DAMS” or spelling out D. A.M.

That is not as fun.

Often, the user assigns context to the DAM assets when they use an asset.


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How do I audit my assets for a DAM?


In my last blog post, we talked about rights management, DAM and good record keeping. This blog has nothing to do with tax audits.

I wanted to continue discussing rights management and good record keeping.

Before you add an asset to your DAM, do you know what rights you have to that asset?

You know whether you are permitted to use, reuse and re-purpose it, right?

That should be included in your metadata.

Not sure what assets are licensed? In the interest of being transparent and legally abiding in today’s business environment, you could do a self audit of all your assets.

Yes, that may mean everything you have on hand. You are organized, right? No? Well, here you chance.

Advantages

  • Start with a clean slate.
  • Pick what is worth keeping.
  • Add proper metadata.
  • Know what you have.
  • Know how and where to find it all (in your DAM).
  • Instant archive/historical record of organization’s IP.

Difficulties

  • It will be time consuming.
  • The longer the organization has been in existence, the more assets you may have on hand to sort through.
  • Where are all the assets hiding in your organization?
  • Who knows about these assets? Is your institutional knowledge leaving the organization?
  • How many assets are not digitized?
  • Who will add metadata to these assets?
  • Easier said than done.

Questions to answer before you start

  • How many assets do you have?
  • Where are they?
  • Can you find them quickly?
  • Do you have the proper licenses to use what you have?
  • When do the licenses for Rights Managed assets expire?

If you can’t answer those five questions, particularly the last one, you may need to perform an internal self audit of your assets. Someone is tracking all licenses for your organization, right? If you don’t know, you may have a liability on your hands.

Here is how you could do a self audit  of your assets:

  1. Check with your legal counsel before starting the self audit.
  2. Find and list all the assets you have on hand.
  3. Compare this with any documentation you have to see if they match.
  4. Contact all of the vendors you have licensed assets from.
  5. Let vendors know you would like a confirmation of all licenses with the understanding you are doing this in good faith to redeem any issues. Unless you are blatantly stealing assets regularly, you have little to fear aside from an invoice. You should get a clear idea of what needs to be done and what may need a license.
  6. Vendors will usually reciprocate with the information you need to know and note anything you need to address. You could even ask the vendor to supply the metadata in bulk at the same time.

This will help you get your licensing straightened out, give you a clean slate to continue proper rights management and give your legal counsel less headaches in the future.