Posted by on Monday July 23 2007

I’m in a discussion, oh alright then, disagreement with our IT department over the use of our DAM. In case you’re interested we use TEAMS which was originally from Artesia but now is called Artesia DAM and is owned by OpenText. The discussion is about what should go into it. They want a specific list of file types but limited to images and rich media (more about that), I say anything. They seem to be hung up on using it for images primarily, but my point is, departments should be free to use it to manage any digital object that they think is important. The system doesn’t care about the type of the asset, why should we? If its departmentally important to store an organising FileMaker database and some scans of loan agreements along side all the images for a temporary exhibition I say, why not? But, we don’t agree.

So, ‘rich media’. I had a fairly interesting discussion about what constituted a rich media file. Later, I realised the conversation was more about excluding Powerpoint files from the DAM, but the thread went something like:

Me: So, is a PPT file rich media?
ITP: No.
Me: So, a PPT file with video, qtvr and audio files embedded in it, is not a rich media file?
ITP: Er, yes it is.
Me: So, is a PPT file with just text in it a rich media file?
ITP: No.
Me: So, some PPT files can go in and some can’t? How will we tell which are rich and which are not?
ITP: PPT files are out.


Despite the exchange with this IT Person, we did come up with some useful policy criteria to broadly define what files (excluding PPTs) could be uploaded into our DAM. The list is more about a simple working criteria for us to benchmark departmental ingestion requests, rather than an extensive strategic policy framework. Organisations like NISO have much more thorough and indepth discussions and recommendations, see: A Framework of Guidance for Building Good Digital Collections. Anyway, our ‘working’ list:

  1. The digital object is a ‘master’ not a derivative or work in progress
  2. The digital object has value to the institution
  3. The digital object must be managed for access, rights, etc
  4. Digital object must be searchable/findable in multiple ways
  5. Authorized users should have access to the digital object
  6. Digital object should protected/preserved using best practices available
  7. The institution has defined use/access rights to the digital object

If you have similar simple policies or guidelines, I’d be interested. In the meantime I’m off to create some rich media PPTs.

4 Responses to “DAM I/O”

  1. justin
    July 23rd, 2007 01:37

    Powerpoint is a pretty horrendous file format to deal with. Every try to get some of the media files OUT of a PPT? Don’t even think about it if you’re on a mac.

    A PPT with video is like asking to contract anthrax. I can totally see why IT wanted to keep PPT files out of a DAM. They’re just about the worse kind of file format to use fo collect the media.

  2. Richard Urban
    July 23rd, 2007 02:04

    I can see both sides of this, but without knowing the underlying purpose for the DAM its a little hard to figure out which side to come down on.

    Is there concern about maintaining problematic file formats? that rich media takes up space? concerns about maintenance backup?

    This is also a problem that institutional repositories are struggling with, particularly from a long-term preservation standpoint. Perhaps some of the literature/policies developing over there would be useful?

  3. Deborah Wythe
    July 23rd, 2007 06:36

    If we take the M part of DAMS seriously, then any digital file that has value to the institution — even if it’s somewhat fleeting — should be managed there. It’s not a Digital Preservation System, after all, though we may want that to be part of the asset lifecycle. I’ve been thinking for a while that I’d like our DAMS (when we get there) to have some “records retention” functions — “this file is active for X months by the department that loaded it, then goes to archives for evaluation for long term retention.”
    So PPT files >should < be included in the DAMS, where they can be managed effectively. Otherwise they’ll be scattered all over the network, duplicated, and will be unfindable when they’re needed.

  4. Ari Davidow
    July 24th, 2007 08:42

    I think that it is very easy for folks, IT folks included, to get very hung up on externalities. You see it even in the first comments here where the first commenter was happy to see PPT excluded because “pretty horrendous file format to deal with.” So, that puts this in the category of “we don’t like your file format, so we don’t want it sullying our shiny digital asset management system.”

    To the contrary, I would say that the museum’s digital assets–all of them for which there is a reason not to throw them away–belong in a single system. If there are good reasons not to use PPT (I can think of some, myself), that is a discussion that belongs elsewhere–not at the DAM level.

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