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What do I do with extinct formats?

We all have them. Extinct technology. It comes and goes. We often take it for granted. At first, we treat it like a shiny new thing and then it becomes disposable. Soon, it collects dust somewhere.

Some of this technology stores data which was acquired or created by you. Some of that data may be digital files of value or digital assets, possibly even with some metadata.  Those files may be extinct (or soon to be expired and unsupported) file formats. Some of these file format may be proprietary which may require no longer used proprietary software to run it or a much older version of software to work with it because it is simply no longer supported today.

Sometimes, this data is on extinct physical media such as:

  • Smart phones (average life span: 1-2 years)
  • Prior personal computers (we all have them…every 2-5 years)
  • Smaller external hard drives (do you copy the old data as these hard drives get bigger, cheaper and faster? Or even use cloud storage?)
  • Film (Print or Slide) bye-bye Kodachrome. Film is simply a waste of time and money today. It makes no business sense to use it. If you have film, scan it (hi-res) as needed and archive the rest. Move on.
  • Compact Disc (tic toc…how many devices have optical drives today? Less. The writing is on wall.)
  • Video tapes (pick any of 30+ flavors. Convert to digital as needed and archive the rest.)
  • Zip drives and other proprietary forms of media
  • Cassette tapes
  • Floppy discs (all)
  • 8-tracks (really old school)
  • LP (33, 45 or wax)

Most of these have two things in common: They store information in some form and they fade into history, often with this information. Technology is disposable (Our culture makes sure of it). Before the end of this decade we will be adding DVDs to the list above (and have a lot of scratched coasters) as we download or stream data.

These may still need to be migrated to a current digital form while they still can. This is not about nostalgia. It’s about retaining a historical record. Or have it forgotten and lost permanently. Everything has a life span. Even when it is digital. Not all “stuff” may need to be kept that is why it takes an evaluation or review to determine the value, the feasibility and options available.

The simple answer to the question “What do I do with extinct formats?” is evaluate and migrate what is needed/wanted at least every 5 years.

Don’t believe me? Listen to this podcast.

What do you do with extinct formats?

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What is Digital Asset Management (DAM)?

Depending who you ask, you will get a different answer to the question, “What is Digital Asset Management (DAM)?”

There are plenty of unrelated answers found, about water reservoirs and feats of aquatic engineering. There is even an entry for “dam (dekameter)”. Umm, not really what we are talking about here, but thank you Wolfram|Alpha

In all seriousness, here is a list of answers to the question in their own words (click on each link):

So how do we get consensus on one definition? Can’t we just all get one definition for DAM? Does DAM vary that much? Do we need a broad enough definition that covers what DAM was before, what it is today and what it is becoming? Should there be a simple broad definition to understand the concepts and then more complex definitions to understand the various parts of the solution?

This discussion starts with unity among the DAM professional community. In September 2010, there were two DAM conferences back to back in different cities. Most of the top active minds in the ‘DAM-osphere’ were present. The issue is you could ask every DAM professional the same question and you would likely get a different definition from each person. Or they would ask you to reference xyz.


So how do we fix this? One solution is to set standards going forward. Someone told me ‘the interesting thing about standards is everyone has their own.’ Where is the standards body which creates these standards and hashes out what it really is? Sure, there are well accepted standards bodies. Just to list a few, there are:

The issue is these standards bodies move slowly when establishing standards. It can take 5 to 15 years to set a standard. Does anything change within that period of time?

There is one group which DAM professionals may have heard of already.

Enter the DAM Foundation. Yes, that’s right. There is one. And their major purpose for existence?

DAM Foundation. Creating the standards in Digital Asset Management

It has hundreds of members from DAM professional community already. You will hear more about it in the coming months. I have spoken to plenty of DAM professionals who would love to hash this out together… not individually. A standard accepted by the whole can trump the standard mentioned from one.

Meanwhile, we can continue the discussion…

What is your definition of Digital Asset Management?

Input interpretation:

dam (dekameter)