I recently attended and participated in Createasphere, great conference. The panel format was a big WIN!. Panels are so much more informative than the usual “death by deck” that gets dolled out at these events. At the end of the day I took so much more away from each talk, as it was “experts” often times speaking “off-the-cuff” and answering questions from the audience. This was the first truly “interactive” conference I have ever attended. The speakers seemed more approachable, because the audience got to see them “expose” themselves on stage, whether that was “digging-a-hole” or showing how truly passionate they are about the topic of DAM.
The conference overall was one of the best “professional” conferences I have ever been to. However, we all drink the same Kool-aid (a more in-depth discussion about this drinking problem coming in a future post). The conference was incestuous. Mostly all attendees were already well established DAM professionals (ie. Speakers) or Vendors. I think I met only one non-DAM inductee.
So what’s the point of the valuable message that was being given if no one but your peers is around to hear it? Yes, they might gain valuable insight as I did, but isn’t it also possible to both help your peers and help others outside the realm of DAM?
To do this, information has to be accessible. We of all people (DAM professionals) should understand this. However, these conferences are not accessible. Most folks are struggling just to implement DAM in their organization, let alone convincing their superiors that they also must attend a conference with a high ticket price. I wont even get into how much KM world costs to attend (Taxonomy Bootcamp included). One of my coworkers is currently in the process of writing, filling out forms, meeting with people, convincing others all just to be able to go to KM World.
Also, the professional classes, some lasting only a few days, often cost just as much to attend as a upper tier university course for a full semester and you don’t even get academic credits. I’m sure the classes are great, but only those with corporate backing can afford to attend. In my opinion they aren’t the ones that need the most help. Cultural heritage orgs right now are in the most crisis in terms of handling digital information, there are very few of them than can afford to even staff a full-time DAM person let alone, pay to educate them. For me, that does not sound accessible, just L33t (“leet” as in elite) as my hacker friends would say.
I write and talk about getting out of professional silos as much as possible. I do this mostly to bring awareness to the problem of silos and to help others recognize and hopefully recover from them. People don’t know what DAM is unless they are involved in the profession. They really don’t have a clue, even when it is explained to them. Even people who are “involved” don’t really get it. I’ve seen more poorly implemented DAM solutions than I have seen good ones. They can’t afford to take the classes or attend the professional conferences. Sure they can go to websites and browse for articles, but the really good ones are kept behind locked doors. I understand the need to make money, but there also has to be some level of give and take or our professional will continue to remain in the shadows. People will never adopt a standard if it’s not accessible. We are on the path to, and are already creating our own silos, they very thing we set out to prevent with information.
What can we do about it?
For starters, we can stop just talking to each other and start talking to people not in the “know”. Talk to creatives, developers, art directors, technology folks etc. Also, stop this silly process of hording all the “good” stuff (information) by putting a huge price tag on it, both with our documentation and our conferences. If people know stuff your job is not going to end its actually going to only get better. More DAM projects might be given a better chance at success if more people understand what the hell it is your actually doing over there in that cubicle. The more folks are educated about DAM, they more they will see the relevance of it to the organization. If you’re really lucky you might even get some more resources thrown at your project.
What can you do?
Join and participate (yes, they are two different things) in groups like the DAM Foundation and your local DAM Meetup group. Groups like these are trying to standardize and strengthen the field by sharing information and empowering individuals.
Most good DAM professionals are strategic thinkers and can see the big picture when others cannot, making for a pretty lonely career path. However, reaching out to both your profession and becoming more cross-disciplinary can help. Think outside the box and try and bring your message to those outside your profession. If they won’t listen to you, bring in a few folks and make the panel talks an “event”. Empower your organization by having a panel of experts come in. Don’t do a boring “ “death by deck” presentation, but instead just talk off-the-cuff about the practice of DAM and answer questions. In short, really talk about your topic and show others what you know. You don’t have to have all the answers, but the answers you do have are valuable.
Overall, remember outreach is important in an emerging profession. Don’t horde knowledge, it’s not going to help you or anyone else.The best advice is the advice that is given for free, with no strings attached. It’s fair to charge for services rendered, but don’t forget to share what you learn with others and give a little back to the community. Remember, there are a lot of lost folks out there and it’s within our power to help them.
Leave a comment
Metadata and Taxonomies are my thing. I spend an awful lot of time drinking coffee and having existential dilemmas on how to categorize what the hell I do for a living.