• THE STARCHIVIST BLOG — Navigating the Digital Content Universe

DIgital practice

DAM it! How do I choose the right tool to make sense of my digital media mess?

by | Sep 4, 2019 | 0 comments

You’ve got media. Lots of it. 

If you’re anything like me, your approach to media organization might currently look something like this: 

  • a box of 4 MB thumb drives circa mid-2000s
  • a collection of 10-year-old DVDs from when you were super proactive and had your 8MM tapes “digitized” 
  • a computer desktop that looks like a filing cabinet exploded on it
  • a random assortment of files someone once shared with you via Dropbox
  • a proprietary work server with 10,000 folders named something like, “082014_Projects_MediaAssets_Originals_Vectors_ForPrint_ClientApproved_DONOTUSEAFTER102014”
  • a handful of external hard drives (admit it: at least one of those hard drives has a power cord attached to it that you have to plug into the wall) filled with photos, videos, work files, art, and that one document you need to access like once a year but can never find

Yeah. More like digital media chaos than digital media mastery. 

The thought of having to sit down and organize all that stuff is…well, let’s just say that I’m likely to put off that fun task as long as possible. The thing is, our media collections are only getting bigger, not smaller. So the longer we wait to get the mess managed, the more time, effort, and money it’s going to take to get the mess managed. 

And if you’re running a business, that can have a huge impact. I recently heard from one marketing manager that they often re-license stock photos they already own because they can’t find them — and it’s not worth their time to have one of their staffers spend hours digging through servers and hard drives. Easier to just buy the photos again. 


Fortunately, tech is finally catching up with the world’s need to get its digital act together. There are dozens of companies out there offering solutions for “digital asset management” (frequently referred to as DAM, which provides an endless supply of witty, dual-meaning headlines) — but what does that even mean, and which one is going to best meet your needs? Where do you start? Is it even possible to get everything in one place? 

We’ve got you covered on this one. Take our short quiz below to figure out what media organization tools are likely to be the best fit for you and what next steps you can take on your journey out of digital media chaos. 

(FYI, I proposed the idea of a quiz titled, “What flavor of ice cream are you based on the type of media you have?” but apparently that’s “unprofessional.” Also, most of us are likely to be Confetti Cake Batter With Rainbow Sprinkles. Because Cake Batter ice cream is the bomb and nobody just has Word docs.) 

Anatomy of an Upload

Anatomy of an Upload

Why does it take so long to upload to the cloud? Upload is more than just sending information from one place to another, and there are numerous factors that play into upload time. Here’s a handy overview of what goes into an upload to help you estimate how long it might take to move your media into the cloud.

Starchive helps WFMT Relaunch a Radio Legend

Starchive helps WFMT Relaunch a Radio Legend

Dubbed “the voice of the working man,” Studs Terkel reached international acclaim as one of the most intellectually curious newscasters of the 20th century. His work included coverage of the civil rights movement and conversations with the power players of jazz, blues, and politics.