Whenever I start a new-user training I ask the user, “Have you ever used a DAM before?” The usual answer is, “No”. Then I follow up with, “Do you know what ‘DAM’ is?” again the answer is usually, “No”. This is all to be expected.
However, if I change the question to, “Have you ever used iTunes?” Well then, the answer is almost 100%, “Yeah, I use it all the time”.
“Ah-ha! You do use DAM! Think of our DAM like a ginormous, multi-user iTunes on crack for just about any file, not just audio, video and iOS applications.”
The iTunes Analogy for Teaching DAM Concepts
I find using the analogy of iTunes to explain how our DAM works to be an effective tool when training my users. And, if you think about it, iTunes really is a small, consumer-grade DAM — well, I suppose “MAM”, if you wanna be picky about it.
Records, Catalogs and Metadata
When you use iTunes, you’re not worried about where your media assets are stored on your computer but rather how do you browse, search, sort your library of media. In this case, iTunes is acting like a centralized storage location. It’s doing the work to keep track of what’s been cataloged into your Library. Each item in the library is a record that has a pointer to the file. Records contain metadata. In the case of iTunes, it will be mostly music and video centric metadata like artist, album, etc.
The analogy continues to explain other DAM concepts like collections or saved sets of assets. A song can be in multiple playlists at the same time. When you add a song to a play list, it’s not being moved to another location. If your DAM has a function of a category or taxonomy tree to which you can assign assets, the playlist concept works here as well.
One could take things to their logical extreme to explain generating derivative files by the use of some action (transcoding from AAC to MP3). But, while iTunes will catalog the result file into the library, it does not have a function to explain relationships such as Parent/Child, etc.
It’s just iTunes on Crack.
Using iTunes is an effective way to teach DAM concepts to my users. It’s something they already know and helps their confidence level. After all DAM is just like iTunes on crack.