By Roisin Grasby –
Most of us are familiar with how the skills we learn and use at work can seep into our personal life.
I try not to take it too far; I don’t physically organise objects at home by Brand, Usage Rights and other metadata. Sure, I have a system of sorts for things like my makeup (so much makeup) and books. However, I don’t take it to the next level; thinking my Ikea furniture should be grouped together in the corner just because that’s what the items have in common. (Oh shush, some of my furniture is from John Lewis, but I unashamedly love Ikea.) Furniture snobbery aside though, I am so much more aware of metadata and how things are grouped together.
Metadata in Real Life
When it comes to searching for things, I put a lot more thought into keywords and how to use them to find what I want a lot more quickly. To be honest, I think a fair portion of this skill is down to my generation and how I’ve grown up with technology. At the age of 28, I have been able to see the internet grow from a clunky, slow dial-up entity into something that returns search results in less than half a second (and boy do we seem to get annoyed if it takes any longer than this).
When an older relative or friend is unable to find something online, I am normally in the position to smugly take control of their HHD or keyboard, type in a few words and there we have it: relevant results = smug-faced Roisin + eye-rolling relative. To me, that is what I’d expect from any good DAM system: relevant results that are found quickly. So, to complete the circle of learning (I cringed typing that), I then try and apply these experiences from outside of work to how I do my job. This could be when I am adding metadata to an asset: it’s really important to achieve a fine balance between picking keywords that a wide range of people would think of, whilst not drowning the asset in so much metadata that it loses its meaning and gets muddled with unrelated assets.
Quality of Information
To me, quality over quantity should be applied when it comes to metadata. And I am constantly reassessing what quality looks like. And I don’t mean that in a vague business sense of all talk and no action. The system I work on is growing rapidly in the number of assets it holds and this means that as a team, we constantly need to reassess existing and new assets, ensuring they are relevant, correctly categorised and that users can find them. I’ve definitely seen “bad” metadata as well as metadata that needs to be revisited as the system grows. It’s all too easy to see this as a pain, huffing and puffing about the enormity of a task ahead. But it’s all learning, which I love, and it’s my DAM job.
I love that DAM has become so big, in ways that I can’t comprehend at my level. I have been in the industry for just over a year and my journey has only just begun, which I find incredibly mind-boggling and exciting. To thrive in DAM, I see myself as needing to have an understanding of how many different DAM systems function (or sometimes, not) as well as having a creative enough mind to think of effective and useful ways to categorise the many incoming assets; adapting my approach to the user’s needs and the brand’s needs. Bring it on.