Friday, July 18, 2014

27 DAM Terms Every Studio Manager Should Know

In a time of turbulence and change, it is more true than ever that knowledge is power,” John F. Kennedy

As studio managers, it's our duty to keep up with the technology and trends relevant to our industry. You also need to interact with your IT and/or Digital Asset Management personnel and quite frankly even having a 'water cooler' chat with them, to the majority of us, it's a sure trip to Google some of the terms filtered in their 'geeky' vocabulary.

I've put together a list of 27 terms and concepts that in my personal opinion are the most important to any end user of a DAM system. Most of them you probably know already and in general this may help us to brush up on our DAM knowledge, so the next time you talk to the dudes from IT, your first reaction is not a "Huh?" Yes!, I've been there and I must confess this blog has been a very humble and educational experience for myself. I hope you'll find it interesting as well.

Access Control List or ACL is a technical term to refer to permissions which control the visibility, usage and modification of assets (corresponding to activity descriptions like view, download and edit).

An Application Programming Interface or API is a set of specifications used by an application program to communicate and share data with other applications. These are often published as a set of documents by the software vendor. By leveraging the power of an API, developers can execute functions and retrieve their results from an external application. The degree of ease required to achieve system integration and expansion are commensurate with the quality of an API.

A type of search allowing users to combine keywords with operators such as AND, NOT and OR to further produce more relevant results. For example, a Boolean search could be "advertising" AND "New York". This would limit the search results to only those documents containing the two keywords.

Cataloging means the high-level process of adding metadata to assets in a Digital Asset Management system. It is also called Ingesting.

Cloud computing relies on sharing of resources to achieve coherence and economies of scale, similar to a utility (like the electricity grid) over a network. At the foundation of cloud computing is the broader concept of converged infrastructure and shared services.
Cloud computing, or in simpler shorthand just "the cloud", also focuses on maximizing the effectiveness of the shared resources. Cloud resources are usually not only shared by multiple users but are also dynamically reallocated per demand.

DAM is an acronym for Digital Asset Management. Digital Asset Management (DAM) – the process of cataloging, finding, delivering and preserving digital assets; including images, documents, video, audio and any other digital file. Digital Asset Management systems provide users with a central location to search, locate, access and share files in an easy and efficient way.

Is transferring a database (assets, metadata, folder structure, etc) from one system to another. Usually happens when one system is replacing another.

A database is typically used in a DAM system to hold metadata about assets. The majority of modern databases are known as Relational Databases (the correct term is RDBMS (Relational Database Management System). In a relational database, tables of information are connected together by using identifiers (or indexes) to do search on them.

Converting a physical/analog file, such as a paper document, slide or printed photograph, into a digital file, i.e., scanning.

A graphical user interface (GUI) is a common type of user interface which allows users to interact with DAM through the use of graphical icons and visual indicators.

Ingesting is also referred to as cataloging. The process of adding or uploading assets to your digital asset management system, and adding, embedding and extracting metadata to/from your assets. Once the assets are in your DAM system, users can search, find, share and work with your digital files.

A vocabulary that uses a collaborative method to categorize your metadata, where freely chosen keywords are used instead of a controlled vocabulary (such as with taxonomy). It could lead to inconsistencies in the classification of information (kitty versus cat, for example).

The action of assigning information to your assets to describe them better and help others find them later. Keywords become part of your digital assets’ metadata. Organizations usually use a combination of taxonomy and folksonomy for describing their assets.

Linked Data is a series of techniques to allow data which is stored in a distributed fashion to be interconnected. It is describes a range of functions, including exposing, sharing, and connecting data.

Media Asset Management (MAM) is generally considered as simply an alternative term for Digital Asset Management, although some would argue that a MAM system only supports video rather than any type of digital file.

Metadata is the data about the data. it's the descriptive information about your files. Digital asset management systems rely heavily on metadata, as it’s critical for searching, retrieving and managing your rich media assets.

This term refers to any files that are created from the original for reference purposes. They are used to represent assets - in general as a low resolution, truncated or otherwise constrained edition. The term is now the more popular way to describe non-original assets that have been rendered specifically for use in Digital Asset Management system.

It's the acronym for Storage Area Network. It's a dedicated network that provides access to consolidated storage. SANs are primarily used to make storage devices, such as disk arrays appear like locally attached devices to an operating system (Server). Typically used by enterprise level organizations.

When talking about databases, your schema is the framework or concept that helps organize and interpret information. It is your structure, your list of fields (such as date, author, name, subject, etc) that you would like your catalogs to contain.

Tagging is a colloquial term given to the process of adding metadata generally and keywords in particular to digital assets.

The technique for creating classifications, using a very controlled vocabulary. Unlike folksonomy, it is hierarchical in nature, and represents information about your assets or metadata. An organization may use taxonomy to better manage the metadata that users will assign to the digital assets.

Transcoding is the process of converting one video or audio format into another. In general it refers to the conversion of one codec to another (e.g. MPEG to FLV), although the description can also apply to conversions between container formats (e.g. QuickTime to AVI).

User Interface (or 'UI') is a generic IT term relating to the method by which a user operates computer software. User interfaces typically are either graphical or command oriented (e.g., written instructions).

The way a file travels to, through and from a DAM system. Workflow reads and acts upon metadata. Workflow can add captions, convert colours and handle distribution. It saves time and errors.

XML is an abbreviation of Extensible Markup Language. XML is a standard for creating markup languages which describe the structure of data so that it can be exchanged between two different systems. It is heavily used in systems integration. Most Digital Asset Management (DAM) systems include features that allow metadata and assets to be supplied to third party systems in XML format.

Extensible Metadata Platform. A standard created by Adobe for processing and storing metadata about all types of digital assets such as images, documents, layout documents, etc. Metadata is embedded into the files and allows files to be shared and transferred without any of the information getting lost.

It's the pioneer of the next generation of cloud-based enterprise asset management systems. I'm very excited of migrating to this innovative system and you can find out more at

Ernie Arias is an Advertising Studio Manager at Hogarth WW. Social Media enthusiast. Dad, husband. Opinions are my own.

References.: DAM Glossary, DAM Learning Center, Wikipedia, ZONZA.