What would do you do with 50,000 digital images?

We have a problem that is probably common at similar institutions. Now that we’ve begun to produce digital media, what the heck do we do with it? For example, the University photographer at IWU has thousands of digital images that need to be distributed around campus for various purposes.

These images need to be placed in the hands of our corps of web contributors. There are a few individuals in every department that work on the web to varying degrees. It isn’t practical for the photographer to e-mail relevant images to each department, or even to produce proof sheets. New digital images come in faster than they can be sorted.

To solve this problem, we began to use a product called iView Media Pro. This software was designed to catalog media files. It can store and categorize sound, video, still images, and other digital stuff. Catalogs include thumbnail images, keywords, categories, and a connection to the full-sized image.

The Pro version of the software was purchased and installed for the photographer, and others around campus got the free Reader application that can open and browse these catalogs. The images live on a Mac OS X server where all the end users get read-only access.

This worked great until the Mac server crashed and was replaced with another newer Mac server. Now the catalogs that are made on a Mac and stored on a Mac can’t be correctly viewed from Windows. The images haven’t moved. The thumbnails and metadata are there, but the Windows computers looking for them can’t find the full sized image.

Did I mention that somewhere along the line Microsoft bought iView and changed the name? Now it is called Expression Media. They have issued two versions and a service pack update under the new branding. We’ve tried the new versions to see if the Windows bug is fixed, but tech support indicates it is under investigation.

I can’t shake the feeling that there should be a better way to do this. At home I use Flickr to catalog and share images and couldn’t be happier. Another web-based tool is SmugMug, which is powered by the Amazon.com cloud computing platform. Unfortunately there is no way to directly import the iView images into these services without losing the valuable metadata – keywords, categories, and other tags would be separated from their images. I can’t imagine how many hours it would take to redo this work.

For now, I’ll wait for the Microsoft techs to fix this bug. Anyone have other ideas on storing, cataloging, and sharing large amounts of images?

1 thought on “What would do you do with 50,000 digital images?

  1. Update: A member of the Expression Media team at Microsoft contacted me yesterday with a possible workaround. She had somehow found this blog post and e-mailed me even though I had not solicited official help from her team.

    We haven’t implemented the workaround yet, but I am certainly impressed by this level of customer service!

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