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When you’re in charge of managing a large collection of rich media files it’s easy to become a rich media hoarder. Since data storage is cheap, and image capturing devices and content creation apps are aplenty, many professionals find themselves rapidly amassing an unmanageable stockpile of files.

While swimming in a pile of rich media files like a cyber-Scrooge McDuck in a vault of digital assets may sound fun, maintaining control over a rich media hoard takes time, effort and a little planning.

According to, a hoard is defined as “a supply or accumulation that is hidden or carefully guarded for preservation, future use, etc.” This definition also applies to rich media collections in several ways.

First, rich media files accumulate over time, from many places, and in many formats. Second, the rich media hoard is often hidden in various locations -- across computer workstations, file servers, CDs, removable drives and other data stores.

Third, the hoard is carefully guarded -- you don’t want anyone mucking up your hoard, deleting files, taking what they want, or ignoring brand or licensing guidelines. Finally, preservation is important -- you’re keeping this stuff around because it’s valuable and you plan on using it again in the future (hopefully).

Being a rich media hoarder isn’t a bad thing. Somebody needs to roll up their sleeves, take a trip to the digital container store, and get the house in order. However, the first step in correcting a dysfunctional hoarding situation is recognizing that there’s a problem.

Here are some warning signs that your rich media hoard may be out of control:

Where Did I Put That File?

You know you have a particular file, you just can’t find it. You may recall certain details like what it looked like, when it was created, the project it was created for or maybe even the file name. However, you look everywhere but you still can’t find it.

You ask your colleagues or the client if they know where a copy is, but they don’t know either. You simply have too much stuff, in too many places, and eventually give up on your search because it takes too long. If this happens more than a few times a year, you might be a rich media hoarder.

Format Follows Function

You store multiple variations of a single image in multiple formats instead of managing one master file. For example, instead of just keeping the high resolution TIFF or Camera raw file you also manage JPEG, PSD and PDF versions in case someone needs them in that format in the future.

Managing the collection ends up taking three times the time because you’re managing three times the formats. This also means one file takes up approximately three times the storage space. If you intentionally duplicate files in this way, you might be a rich media hoarder.

Groundhog Day

Similar to the first example, you know you have a particular file somewhere. However, based on previous search failures you don’t even put effort into finding files from past projects. Instead, you know that it’s a better use of resources just to re-create the file. So you bring back in the designer or photographer and do it all over again.

If this has ever happened to you, you might be a rich media hoarder (bonus points if you’ve done this more than once for a particular file).

The Hypocritical Gatekeeper

You closely guard your hoard of rich media files and rarely let mere mortals near it. While the hoard exists for other people to use and create value for your company, you are diligent in protecting “your” files from misuse and abuse.

However, finding and delivering files to other people ends up being a huge annoyance to you because other people can’t find files themselves. If you don’t have a system in place for controlling how other people access the files you manage, you might be a rich media hoarder.

Bloated PowerPoint Presentations and Lopsided JPEG Graphics

When people end up using files from your hoard, sometimes they use a version that’s not the correct size, format or dimension for the intended use. This problem often manifests as a stretched or skewed image, a pixelated graphic, or a turgid PowerPoint file that swells due to the placement of several 100 MB+ print-quality graphics in its belly. If you or your colleagues ever use rich media files in the wrong format, you might be a rich media hoarder.

No End in Sight

Managing your rich media hoard is becoming more and more of a time sink and things seems to be getting worse instead of better. Your collection is growing at an exponential rate as more people create content using their high-quality cameras, ubiquitous cells phones and creative apps. If you feel there is no end in sight to your rich media woes, you might be a rich media hoarder.

So What Do I Do?

Well, what do they end up doing on those reality TV shows? They throw some stuff away, they sell some of the stuff and they organize the rest. This is where digital asset management can help rich media hoarders.

DAM helps you throw stuff away by identifying duplicate and unused assets, as well as by helping you manage one copy of a file and create duplicates as needed -- no more managing multiple formats for one file! DAM can also help you start a garage sale by enabling monetization of your assets.

For example, you could increase revenue using your hoard by licensing the rich media files on an e-commerce website. Finally, DAM helps get you organized. Instead of navigating virtual piles of disorganized assets in your digital workspace, you’ll effortlessly waltz through an electronic version of The Container Store.

Rich Media Hoarders Support Group

Sometimes it’s nice to have other people to commiserate with and vent your frustrations within a safe group setting. If you’re a rich media hoarder who will be in New York City on June 19th, 2012 I invite you to join me at the NYC Rich Media Hoarders Seminar.

The free event features Comedy Central’s Studio Manager, Kevin Gepford, who will be talking about how he got his digital house in order as well as sessions on rich media organization, a rich media hoarders support group and a nutritious lunch to prevent RMHF (rich media hoarder fatigue).

Title image courtesy of Yuriy Kulyk (Shutterstock).

Editor's Note: To read more thoughts on Digital Asset Management by Edward Smith: