Which Came First: The Asset or the Process?
In the world of digital delivery, there is an unspoken debate. Well, it’s not a debate, but depending on where you sit, it’s a vital part of your perspective. If you live and breathe in the DAM (Digital Asset Management) or ECM (Enterprise Content Management) world – the Asset comes first. Metadata, Taxonomy, Keywords, Content Structure, and even the process, with the Asset lens, are centered on the inputs and outputs of the Asset. Asset. Asset. Asset.
If you live in the Workflow world (how things go from start to end), you’ll claim the process is first. The workflow lens is agnostic of the item created or revised but may include the thing. And since the thing may be an event, an asset, or any other thing, including other processes, it has to be where it started.
Like Chicken or Egg, this conversation can go on and on. So, here are some data points.
The first digital image was created in 1957.
The first photograph was taken in 1826.
And if you take a broader view of Asset, the first cave painting was created about 62,000 BC (in Cáceres, Spain).
To the DAM people, that proves that the Asset is the beginning. Of course, in their defense, 64,000 years ago is a long time ago. But it should be clear if you have ever interacted with DAM folks that they see almost everything through the asset lens – including the process of creating and distributing the Asset.
To explain the process lens, let’s go back to the original question of the chicken vs. the egg.
Amniotic eggs showed up roughly 340 million or so years ago, and the first chickens evolved around 58 thousand years ago at the earliest; it’s a safe bet to say the egg came first. So eggs were around way before chickens even existed.
The Asset in the above scenario is the chicken because it results from the process, but the process does not necessarily result in an asset. The process has a one-to-many relationship, like the egg. The chicken comes from an egg – that part is correct. But the egg can be related to turtles, lizards, snakes, and other animals that existed well before the chicken. The processes, similarly, are tied to Assets for sure. But they are also connected to every other repeatable event, action, and thing, well before the creation of the first cave painting — which is also a process.
Am I taking this analogy too far?
We have worked with many DAM-centered folks, and there is nothing wrong with their perspective, but it is not comprehensive. In our opinion, it is not as complete as having the process lens. To take Seth Godin’s perspective from his book “The Practice,” many processes don’t result in any outcome, but that’s not the point – it is no reason to give up trying.
I can hear the DAM folks claiming Adam and Eve as assets. But I’m not going to debate whether Adam and Eve existed before the creation of Adam of Eve. That’s above our pay grade.
Regardless, we hope that resolves a debate that no one has had.
Weird Fishes by Lianne La Havas