background image
has recently made recommendations for metadata in the public sector, using the Dublin
Core, and this endorsement is expected to accelerate developments.
18
In order to maximise their output, DAM systems should provide support for integrat-
ed indexing and search functionalities. An indexing application navigates its way through
a file repository, `reads' the text files held there, and constructs a separate database of pre-
defined content elements and metadata. Metadata contained within the media asset allow
users to narrow their search strategies, and gives users a better chance of finding exactly
what they are looking for.
Content classification systems enable administrators to organise user-specific metadata
values as an aid to specialised Web functions such as site analysis, personalisation, and
content targeting.The ability to personalise the user's experience is dependent on linking
dynamic page content to previous user actions. User personalisation will also require the
introduction and maintenance of a membership database, in order to store customer
attributes and other relevant information.
Databases
Matching a future DAM solution to existing database systems is of the utmost impor-
tance. It is also crucial to differentiate between the different types of database likely to be
in use across an organisation. For example, if the majority of staff are currently working
on standalone databases such as Microsoft Access, the information from these will have to
be standardised and streamlined in order to facilitate distribution across a network.This is
the only way that DAM software can fulfil its function efficiently. An upgrade to a more
powerful client-server database will also be necessary if the assets are to be made available
for public Web access.
Object databases have been and are being developed which hold the assets themselves
in a DBMS as user-defined objects. Storage of assets in a database will increase the gran-
ularity (or the level of detail at which the code or data is considered) of an organisation's
assets to a significantly greater degree than the standard file approach. Storing assets in a
file system with pointers to the location of the metadata can be more efficient, up to a
point, especially when the content is linked with a freely-accessible Website.The decision
on which strategy to adopt must depend on the size, formats and idiosyncrasies of the
collections to be managed, as well as the organisation's ability to create and maintain an
expensive single-purpose resource.
Proprietary and hosted DAMS
An organisation's Digital Asset Management systems are commonly hosted in one of
two ways: locally (i.e. on-site) or hosted (i.e. online). Each has its own benefits and short-
comings. Server-centric, ASP-based solutions may be popular among smaller organisa-
tions that have fewer assets to store, or whose asset formats are relatively uncomplicated.
A managed,Web-based solution allows an organisation to combine the security and
Digital Asset
Management Systems
47
18
See http://www.govtalk.gov.uk/documents/e-GIF_version_2.doc for the British Government's
explanatory document.