Leala Abbott wrote a mighty fine blog post recently on analog versus digital assets called The Analog-ists Revenge. She astutely points out that many of the unwieldy processes being applied to managing digital assets stem directly from analog thinking. Here is a great analogy:
“To describe how managing digital information differs from the analog world. I often use my Greek Vase analogy. Let’s say you have a Greek Vase, an actual physical 3-D object, this vase is not going to replicate itself right before your eyes hundreds of times, that digital file on the other hand, will do it in a heartbeat. Therefore working with digital resources requires a completely different shift in thinking and practices that worked great for managing analog materials, just won’t scale when moved to the digital realm.”
I am pleased to see a comparison to the archival processing article by Greene and Meissner from 2005 called “More Product, Less Process.” I rely on this type of thinking when approaching DAM and metadata planning as well. One must be judicious both when selecting digital assets as well as when deciding how and what metadata to apply to each asset.
Finally, Abbott points out that there actually are subtle differences between managing a collection using collection management software and managing digital assets using a digital asset management system. The best way I can describe it is that collection management is more akin to managing the analog objects – the surrogate has the same attributes applied as the actual physical object. But in the digital realm, one must think iteratively and holistically. The digital assets are in and of themselves the objects or items you are managing.