Friday 3 January 2014

A collaborative approach to workflow design

Uploading and describing content in a digital asset management system requires an efficient process, easily integrated into people's daily work habits. In December we kicked off a project to design and implement a simplified workflow for managing design products, taking advantage of our new embedded metadata (XMP) standard. Sometimes talking about workflows can feel like dancing about architecture, so I decided to try a more hands-on workshop as part of the project.

Friday 27 September 2013

Why consent matters when reusing photographs

Today's Toronto Star includes this perfect example of why we need good practices around how we manage and reuse digital photographs:

Woman sues after her picture used in HIV ad.

It appears this woman was the subject of a photo shoot several years ago. The photographer then turned around and sold the photographs via Getty Images, without getting consent, a release or authorization from her subject. To make matters worse, Getty has a clause in their license stating that "using an image in connection with an unflattering or controversial subject requires a disclaimer statement that: (1) licensed material is being used for illustrative purposes only, and (2) any person depicted in the licensed material is a model." It doesn't appear this was followed in the New York State Division of Human Rights ad.

Yikes! Make sure you manage consent forms and permissions related to your digital photographs, provide the right level of security and reduce the risk to your company or organization.

Thursday 9 May 2013

Openness and reuse of digital photographs

Enabling reuse of City of Toronto digital photographs was an early justification for the development of our Digital Asset Library program. It is embedded in our approved mandate, to 'provide a digital asset management platform enabling collaboration, sharing and reuse of digital assets".

Friday 12 April 2013

Next steps for City of Toronto digital asset management

Our next phase includes management of communications products such as this City Hall green roof ad.
Since launching the City of Toronto's digital asset management program, we have focused on the upload, description and management of digital photographs. Our next steps include expanding to new content types and users, as well as improving reporting, rights management and governance. We are building on our foundational work completed in 2012 to make it easier to upload, share and reuse files.

1. Managing Communications Products

Phase 2 includes the upload and management of communications materials, both final PDFs and layout files, linked to high-resolution original images or graphics. Unlike a batch of photographs shot to document a single event, communications materials can have more complex relationships and require more detailed item-level descriptions. This will be a significant change in how staff work.  The transition should be made easier by simplified file descriptions and embedded metadata, allowing us to reuse existing descriptive information.

2. Partnership with New Divisions

Currently the Digital Asset Library (DAL) is used by staff in City Clerk's Office and City Planning only. We are in the planning stages to pilot with new divisions, including:
  • Parks, Forestry & Recreation
  • Public Health
  • Shelter, Support & Housing Administration
  • Economic Development & Culture

3. Reporting Project

This project will deliver improved reporting capabilities, enabling program management and divisional partners to better measure performance, usage trends and identify potential improvements.

4. Access, Rights and Reuse Project

Current and future partners are increasingly seeking advice and guidance on image rights management.  To meet this need, the City of Toronto Archives intends to develop DAL as a tool to manage copyright and related rights information of the City's digital assets.  In consultation with our divisional partners, it is our intention to develop a simplified model to enable reuse.

5. Establishment of Steering Committee

Our approved program recommendations included a steering committee model to support DAL in meeting goals, prioritizing projects and allocating resources to deliver them.  We will be working with representatives from our divisional partners to establish this committee.

We have set out ambitious plans for our next phase, based on staff feedback and program goals. I'm looking forward to working with our partners to improve collaboration, sharing and reuse of digital photographs and communications materials around the City of Toronto.

Thursday 31 January 2013

Digital Asset Library year in review - 2012

Christmas decorations at City Hall and Nathan Phillips Square skating rink, by Jose San Juan
Waaaaaay back last January, I wrote about my DAL priorities for 2012.  It was an ambitious list, focused on improvements and foundational work to support expansion.  In completely biased fashion, I'll review our work on each count and provide a grade.

Friday 9 November 2012

Not quite there: fun with Google Image recognition and search

There's something playful about the way researching one topic often leads to new insights on another.  While attempting to track down copyright information for a test file, I decided to try out some of Google's newer image recognition and search capabilities, such as the browser-based Google Image and the mobile app, Google Goggles.

The underlying idea is pretty wonderful – instead of trying to think up just the right search terms, simply snap a picture or upload an existing image, and the magic of Google will find images “like” it.   This could be great tool for designers who may be looking for similar but slightly different images to fit into a specific design project.  Could the promise of algorithmic image recognition reduce the need to apply keywords and descriptions to our images?

Thursday 1 November 2012

metadata - use it or lose it

Over this fall I have recruited representatives from our participating units who are working with me to simplify our digital asset management system.  Not surprisingly, we have no shortage of ideas for new functionality or updates!  However, our challenge has been to develop recommendations that we could implement ourselves, without requiring expensive customizations.  We focused on simplifying the descriptive metadata that must be applied to assets when importing.
As discussed in my previous post, there are principles we can apply when considering which metadata fields to hide or remove.  Streamlining also means reworking the remaining fields so they are easier to use for all groups.  Here's a few more general principles derived from experience and information standards:
  1. Use it or lose it
  2. Mutual exclusivity
  3. Use the language of your users
  4. Use terms important to organizational context
Creative Commons License
This work by Jonathan Studiman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.5 Canada License.