Blog / Foundations

A language spoken with objects

Peter Krogh
Wed Apr 29 2020

One characteristic of the new language of imagery is that it is spoken by means of objects. The image—whether still or moving—is a digital object and must be transmitted for the “speech” to take place. This creates some important corollaries:

Accessible storage

You must have access to the image in order to use it. You can’t paraphrase a photo or video: you either have it or you don’t. Therefore, it’s essential to have a robust, accessible, and searchable repository for your images.

Centralization of images

If you need to bring images in from multiple sources, then the repository needs to accommodate collection from multiple sources. This could be multiple cameras you own (your phone, your DSLR, etc.), or it could require collecting from multiple people.

Controlled access for others

If you want to enable multiple people to make use of your images, then you’ll need to allow each of them to have access to the repository. Most people don’t want to give everything away without restrictions, so controlled access is necessary.

Tag, search, and filter capabilities

With the massive multiplication of images, it’s essential to find the right one among the many stored files.

Rights and permission management

The legal landscape around photos and videos is much more complicated than textual speech. Each image may have copyright restrictions, and people or property appearing in images may be subject to rights limitations.

Image quality and transcoding

Textual speech is very resilient; as long as you have a copy of the words in some form, it’s possible to deploy the speech in its highest quality. However, if you mishandle an image file and degrade the quality, there may be no way to recover it. Resizing, reformatting, changing color, or sending through multiple devices or software packages can all damage media when done incorrectly. All of the challenges listed above are the same challenges that photographers and videographers faced at the start of the digital revolution. Now that the rest of society is speaking the language of imagery, these are becoming challenges for every type of communication—and they all multiply exponentially at scale. Some of the challenges listed above can only be solved in the cloud portion of a DAM system (accessible storage, collection, access). Some of these challenges can only be addressed at the governance level (rights and taxonomy policies), and some must be baked into all parts of the system (taxonomy, rights, and object handling). This post is adapted from The DAM Book 3.0, which lays out these principles comprehensively.

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