I recently retired from George Eastman House where I served as Director of Interpretation (and for a time, by default, as make-shift CIO). Collecting institutions unaffiliated with muscular university information technology face special challenges in the management, cataloging, interpretation, and sharing of fine-art photographs and related artists’ media. For medium size or smaller museums and other independent organizations, the production of adequate collections information, mark-up, and data conformation for international aggregation has been difficult to staff and fund. Even with today’s tools and increasingly powerful open-source cataloging projects, directors and trustees of institutions with other pressing programming priorities view such work as labor-intensive irksome toil – budget lines with the lowest return on the dollar and decades in the wilderness.
My proposal is a thought experiment that would put aside the above conundrum, and imagine refinements to the somewhat industrial systems of Digital Asset Management (DAM) – allowing the museum asset (digital facsimile or born-digital object) to function as an armature for the accumulation of image/object metadata and all manner of links and affiliations.