background image
o, that's an asset. Now, what digital assets do
cultural heritage institutions have? Mainly, said
Mr Moon:
° media assets such as photographs;
° editorial assets - text, in other words, and
° information assets in catalogue and marketing
material, mailing lists and development of
education curricula and learning objects.
What about knowledge assets?, asked Mr Yannis
Ioannidis, professor in the Department of Informatics
and Telecommunications at the University of Athens.
Shouldn't they be among the main items, too?
More difficult, said Mr Moon. One could make a
case for capitalising knowledge assets, but it involved
`a particularly onerous, difficult and painful process
called "activity based" accounting'. Most organisati-
ons were `nowhere near that as an approach or disci-
Digital assets largely comprised metadata derived
from capture and creation tools, business rights, com-
missions, accounting data, purchase and licence
details, modification and use indicators. Mr Moon
described an `extraordinary' XML-based metadata
standard platform from Adobe called XMP
(eXtensible Metadata Platform) that stored metadata
in the digital file header, allowing the transfer of
file and metadata together from one user system to
another. It had an `aliasing' function allowing incom-
patible metadata fields to be synchronised between
standards. He enthused: `And as someone from the
IT world will know, synchronisation of metadata is
the rat-hole of the universe.'
Within a digital asset could be many versions of
an original `digital master'. From a digitised picture
would come renditions in low, medium and high
resolution. Illustrators would use these in page design-
ing, the medium resolution for placing and editing
an image, the high resolution for printing, and the
low resolution for the Web. Similarly, text versions
could include documents in differing languages or
a variety of wording, providing a file with multiple
layers for automatic or dynamic renditions on Web
displays or just-in-time print functions.
ow would cultural institutions use this? Mr
Moon specified exhibition promotions, cor-
porate sponsorship and sales. As an example,
he went on:`I was just at the Tate Modern in London:
an exquisite, unbelievable exhibition of Picasso and
Matisse. I saw the dialogue between Picasso and
Matisse over a 30-year period.They didn't talk, they
painted, and they would send each other paintings.
You could see how each affected the other in pro-
found and really startling ways, ways you cannot real-
ly appreciate until you see the paintings side by side.'
He said that a DAM system would allow the Tate
Modern to print posters rendered dynamically. `So I
could simply go down into the gallery kiosk and say
"give me one of those". It could be a straight print-
out or it could be turned into a poster with the Tate
Modern logo or maybe with a picture of yourself
superimposed over a little corner.'The Web offered
similar dynamic sales possibilities to individuals or
authorised re-sellers with no need for huge stock
inventories or physical logistical problems.
Some DAMS contained visual search technology,
good for users who did not understand Boolean and
search argument and for video or DVD searches.
Workflow interfaces met the specific requirements of
system managers, media creators and editors and,
finally, the consumers.
Keep in mind 1.: Mr Moon reminded the experts
that, at some time in the future, institutions may
wish to outsource some of the DAMS capability
such as meta-tagging, digitisation or dynamic image
rendering. DAMS technical infrastructure should
allow these and other possible process changes.
Keep in mind 2.: `The biggest, most difficult part
of digital asset management is change management.
How do we facilitate the formation of new beha-
viours among individuals and, more importantly, in
groups and institutions not necessarily warm and
accommodating of change?' he warned.
Metadata to increase utility
`Metadata are becoming increasingly impor-
tant in all types of publishing. Documents con-
taining metadata can greatly increase the utility
of managed assets in collaborative production
Adobe Systems Inc., San Jose, California