Photo credit: Jill Laurinaitis
By Stuart Myles
Chairman of the Board of Directors, IPTC
IPTC holds face-to-face meetings in several locations throughout the year, although, most of the detailed work of the IPTC is now conducted via teleconferences and email discussions. Our Annual General Meeting for 2017 was held in Barcelona in November. As well as being the time for formal votes and elections, the AGM is a chance for the IPTC to look back over the last year and to look ahead about what is in store. What follows are a slightly edited version of my remarks at IPTC’s AGM 2017 in Barcelona.
IPTC has had a good year – the 52nd year for the organization!
We’re continuing to work in partnership with other organizations, to maximize the reach and benefits of our work for the news and media industry. In coordination with CEPIC we organized the 10th annual Photo Metadata Conference, looking to the future of auto tagging and search, examining advanced AI techniques – and considering both their benefits and their drawbacks for publishers. With the W3C we have crafted the ODRL rights standard and are launching plans to create RightsML as the official profile of the ODRL standard, endorsed by both the IPTC and W3C.
We’ve also tackled problems that matter to the media industry with technology solutions which are founded on standards, but go beyond them. The Video Metadata Hub is a comprehensive solution for video metadata management that allows exchange of metadata over multiple existing standards. The EXTRA engine is a Google DNI sponsored project to create an open source rules based classification engine for news.
We’ve had some changes in the make-up of IPTC. Johan Lindgren of TT joined the Board. Bill Kasdorf has taken over as the PR Chair. And we were thrilled to add Adobe as a voting member of IPTC, after many years of working together on photo metadata standards. Of course, with more mixed emotions, we have also learnt that Michael Steidl, the IPTC Managing Director, for 15 years will retire next Summer. As has been clear throughout this meeting and, indeed, every day between the meetings on numerous emails and phone calls, Michael is the backbone of the work of the IPTC. Once again, I ask you to join me in acknowledging the amazing contributions and dedications that Michael displays towards the IPTC.
Later today, we will discuss in detail our plans to recruit a successor for the crucial role of the Managing Director. And this is not the only challenge that the IPTC faces. We describe ourselves as “the global standards body of the news media” and that “we provide the technical foundation for the news ecosystem”. As such, just as the wider news industry is facing a challenging business and technical environment, so is the IPTC.
During this meeting, we’ve talked about some of the technical challenges – including the continuing evolution of file formats and supporting technologies, whilst many of us are still working to adopt the technologies from 5 or 10 year ago. We’ve also talked about the erosion of trust in media organizations and whether a combination of editorial and technical solutions can help.
But I thought I would focus on a particular shift in the business and technical environment for news that may well have a bigger impact than all of those. That shift can be traced back to 2014 which, by coincidence, is when I became Chairman of the IPTC. Last week, Andre Staltz published an interesting and detailed article called “The Web Began Dying in 2014, Here’s How“. If you haven’t read it, I recommend it. The article makes a number of interesting points and backs them up with numerous charts and statistics. I will not attempt to summarize the whole thing, but a few key points are worth highlighting.
Staltz points out that, prior to 2014, Google and Facebook accounted for less than 50% of all of the traffic to news publisher websites. Now those two companies alone account for over 75% of referral traffic. Also, through various acquisitions, Google and Facebook properties now share the top ten websites with news publishers – in the USA 6 of the 10 most popular websites are media properties. In Brazil it is also 6 out of 10. In the UK it is 5 out of 10. The rest all belong to Facebook and Google.
Both Facebook and Google reorganized themselves in 2014, to better focus on their core strengths. In 2014, Facebook bought Whastapp and terminated its search relationship with Bing, effectively relinquishing search to Google and doubling down on social. Also in 2014, Google bought DeepMind and shutdown Orkut, its most successful social product. This, along with the reorganization into Alphabet, meant that Google relinquished social to Facebook and allowing it to focus on search and – even more – artificial intelligence. Thus, each company seems happy to dominate their own massive parts of the web.
But … does that matter to media companies? Well, Facebook said if you want optimal performance on our website, you must adopt Instant Articles. Meanwhile, Google requires publishers to use its Accelerated Mobile Pages or “AMP” format for better performance on mobile devices. And, worldwide, Internet traffic is shifting from the desktop to mobile devices.
Then, if you add in Amazon, Apple and Microsoft, it is clear that another huge shift is going on. All of the Frightful Five are turning away from the Web as a source of growth and instead turning to building brand loyalty via high end devices. Following the successful strategy of Apple, they are all becoming hardware manufacturers with walled gardens. Already we have Siri, Cortana, Alexa and Google Home. But also think about the investments going on by these companies in AR and VR as ways to dominate social interactions, e-commerce and machine learning over the Internet.
So, just as news companies must confront these shifts in the global business and technology environment, so must the IPTC. During this meeting, we’ve talked about our initial efforts to grapple with metadata for AR, VR and 360 degree imagery. We’ve also discussed techniques which are relevant to news taxonomy and classification, including machine learning and artificial intelligence. At the same time, Facebook, Google and others are not totally in control, as they – along with Twitter – found themselves having to explain the spread of disinformation on their platforms and under increased government scrutiny, particular in the EU. So, all of us, whether we describe ourselves as news publishers or not, are dealing with a rapidly changing and turbulent information, technical and business environment.
What does this mean for IPTC? IPTC is a news technology standards organization. But it is also unique in that we are composed of news companies from around the world. We know from the membership survey that both of these factors – influence over technical solutions and access to technology peers from competitors, partners, diverse organizations large and small – are very important to current members. In order to prosper as an organization, IPTC needs to preserve these unique benefits to members, but also scale them up. This means that we need to find ways to open up the organization in ways that preserve the value of the IPTC and fit with the mission, but also in ways that are more flexible. We need to continue to move beyond saying that the only thing we work on is standards and instead use standards as a component of the technical solutions we develop, as we are doing with EXTRA and the Video Metadata Hub. We need to work with diverse groups focused on solving specific business and journalistic problems – such as trust in the media – and in helping news companies learn the best ways to work with emerging technologies, whether it is voice assistants, artificial intelligence or virtual reality.
I’m confident that – working together – we can continue to reshape the IPTC to better meet the needs of the membership and to move us further forward in support of solving the business and editorial needs of the news and media industry. I look forward to working with all of you on addressing the challenges in 2018 and beyond.
Stuart Myles is the Director of Information Management at Associated Press.
IPTC holds its Autumn Meeting this year in Barcelona, Spain, from Monday, 6 November, through Wednesday, 8 November.
A team of IPTC Leads is working on the topics of the Autumn Meeting and we have already a very exciting list:
- Discussion topic: The Art and Science of Practical Metadata
- Discussion topic: System Vendors and News Exchange
- Discussion topic: Automating News – Speed is nothing without Accuracy
- Discussion topic: Trust in the Media
- Discussion topic: JSON – Man for all Seasons?
- Sessions of the NewsML-G2, ninjs, NewsCodes, Video/Photo Metadata and Rights Expression Working Groups; and of the Public Relations and the Standards Committee
- Annual General Meeting
By Sarah Saunders
Ten years ago, the very first IPTC Photo Metadata Conference in Florence was packed with photographers and picture libraries eager to discuss ways of protecting their work in the digital environment. The image industry has expanded enormously since. The image industry has the additional challenge of vast numbers of images crowding the web, and the difficulty of finding the relevant picture, as well as the metadata relating to it.
IPTC Photo Metadata Conference 2017 was designed to look into the future, with a focus on image search using AI or Artificial Intelligence. The ability of computer systems to learn from humans has increased enormously in recent years, and the necessary computer power has now become available. The question for the conference was – how far can these systems help the professional image industry sharpen up its search capability and make gains in productivity?
Solution for Auto Tagging in the Image Industry
Kai-Uwe Barthel, professor of visual computing at HTW Berlin University gave a clear exposition on the history of the field and of the pressing need to create solutions for the picture industry. There are now too many images for classical search systems to handle, but using Neural Network Analysis – a variant of AI – computer systems can be taught to tag and recognise images in a fraction of the time it takes to manually tag. As most online images are untagged, a combination of human tagging and visual similarity search presents a viable way forward. But Barthel and his team have also researched new methods of presenting images, using three dimensional structures to dig into results with large numbers of images visible at one time.
Speakers on the use of AI came from across the industry, presenting solutions which can be put into practice now. The key to success in this area is to have enough content for the computers to learn from, and this can be achieved in a number of different ways. General AI systems produce good results for skies and beaches and general themes because they’ve had the data to learn from. But users can set a system to learn from their own content so that more specialist content can be tagged if the conditions are right. Computers are learning faster, and need fewer images to learn from than before.
AI systems can be trained to recognise faces, text, colours, composition, scenes, and objects, but can also be trained in the aesthetics of image selection, with one speaker maintaining that twenty images are enough to train a system in a particular brand aesthetic. But speakers admitted also that defining the precise location of what is shown in an image by its content was tested but it did not work in a reliable way.
Speakers stressed that the important element in computer learning is the understanding of the nature of the material to be tagged, an attribute which is currently not about to be taken over by artificial intelligence. The benefits in speed and productivity will be enormous but we’re not yet talking about doing away with human skills altogether!
IPTC Video Metadata and Easier Cross Media Distribution
The first afternoon session by IPTC Managing Director Michael Steidl was about the IPTC Video Metadata Hub (VMH), published in 2016 to provide a standard set of fields for use across the varied technologies used in video. Many of the Video Hub fields are equivalent to those in IPTC Photo Metadata Standard, which helps streamline cross media distribution. The VMH can be applied down to the level of video clips, which makes it a useful metadata tool for production, archive and distribution.
Technology That Protects Rights Information in Google Image Search
The IPTC conference was held a day after a CEPIC seminar on Google. The Google image search scrapes images from their original sites and displays them in its own environment. This is bad for rightsholders as images can be saved and downloaded direct from Google without reference to the original site. Picture libraries and agencies lose significant traffic to their sites as a result with a German agencies survey indicating a drop of 50 percent in traffic. The recent fine levied by the EU on Google for anti-competitiveness in comparative shopping sites is encouraging and has paved the way for scrutiny of Google’s actions with online images.
The second presentation of the afternoon presented a solution for the problems raised in the Google seminar. SmartFrame technology allows images to be presented online without the danger of being scraped by Google as this is disabled by technical means. Most of the mechanisms people use to download images – like right-click – are disabled too. Images can be shared as links so social media sharing doesn’t lead to an image becoming orphaned and lost in the websphere. And when an image is viewed as a thumbnail in Google, there is a clear indication that it is a copyrighted image, and a link back to the originating site. Rob Sewel, Pixelrights CEO demonstrated how product items within an image could be linked back to a brand website, providing ways of funding photography in the future where photography provides a link to a paid-for advertising service. The technology could be put to all sorts of uses in both commercial and non-commercial fields, and gives control back to creators and their agents.
The success of this kind of technology, as with all solutions to image grabbing and orphaned images, lies in the uptake of the technology. To be truly protective of copyright, client websites would need to implement a technology like SmartFrame.
The IPTC Photo Metadata Conference 2017 was fascinating from start to finish for the about 60 attendees on location, the level of presentations was extremely high, and the presentations and videos are all available on the website at https://iptc.org/events/photo-metadata-conference-2017/.
Sarah Saunders runs Electric Lane, an independent DAM consultancy specialising in workflow planning, asset retrieval, data management and DAM project management. She works with IPTC’s Photo Metadata Working Group.
I chair the Board of Directors of IPTC, a consortium of news agencies, publishers and system vendors, which develops and maintains technical standards for news, including NewsML-G2, rNews and News-in-JSON. I work with the Board to broaden adoption of IPTC standards, to maximize information sharing between members and to organize successful face-to-face meetings.
We hold face-to-face meetings in several locations throughout the year, although, most of the detailed work of the IPTC is now conducted via teleconferences and email discussions. Our Annual General Meeting for 2016 was held in Berlin in October. As well as being the time for formal votes and elections, the AGM is a chance for the IPTC to look back over the last year and to look ahead about what is in store. What follows is my prepared Chairman’s Report at the AGM.
Good morning from #IPTC Chairman @smyles, at the #IPTC Autumn Meeting 2016, #dpa in Berlin! pic.twitter.com/8u1KvBrfEu
— IPTC (@IPTC) October 24, 2016
The Only Constant
It is clear that the news industry is experiencing a great degree of change. The business side of news continues to be under pressure. And, in no small part, this is because the technology involved in the creation and distribution of news continues to rapidly evolve.
However, in many ways, this is a golden age of journalism. The demand for news and information has never been higher. The immediate and widespread distribution of news has never been easier.
The IPTC has been around for 51 years. I’ve been a delegate to the IPTC since 2000 and Chairman of the Board since June 2014. I’d like to give my perspective on the changes going on within the news industry and how IPTC has and will respond.
We’re On a Mission
IPTC is rooted in – and foundational to – the news industry. Our open source standards for news technology enable the operations of hundreds of news and media organizations, large and small. IPTC standards are instrumental in the software used to create, edit, archive and distribute news and information around the world.
We are starting to evolve the scope of our work beyond standards – such as via the EXTRA project to build an open source rules-based classification engine. Much of what we do is relevant to not only news agencies and publishers, but also to photographers, videographers, academics and archivists. By bringing together these diverse groups, we can not only create powerful, efficient standards and technologies, but also learn from each other about what works and what does not.
What’s Going On?
- continuing to improve documentation – to make it easier to get going with a standard and simpler to grasp the nuances when you want to expand your implementation
- making our standards more coherent and consistent – as many organizations need to use a combination
Great discussion about #IPTC alliance, collaboration with International Image Interoperability Framework @IIIFramework re: #Photo #Metadata pic.twitter.com/EFWdOf7aC6
— IPTC (@IPTC) October 24, 2016
PM session: standards makers PB Core, Media Institute; product vendors inVid, Extensis, Canto, Dextro, Mainstream Data on metadata workflows pic.twitter.com/9EJJQmjDwp
— IPTC (@IPTC) October 25, 2016
IPTC is a membership-driven organization. Membership fees represent the vast majority of the revenue for our organization. As the news industry as a whole continues to feel pressure – including downsizing, mergers and, unfortunately some members going out of business – the IPTC is experiencing downward pressure on its own revenue. So, we are working on ways to reach new members, whilst at the same time ensuring that existing members continue to derive value. We’re also open to exploring new ways of generating revenue which fit with our mission – let us know your ideas!
What new areas should the IPTC focus on? Many journalists are experimenting with an array of technologies – Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, 360 degree photos, drones and bots, to name but a few. And let’s not forget about the “Cambrian Explosion” of technologies related to news and metadata on the Web, including AMP, AppleNews, Instant Articles, rNews, Schema.org and OpenGraph. How can IPTC help – negotiating standards? Developing best practices? Navigating the ethics of these technologies?
If you’re not happy, then please tell me!
I Want to Thank You
Finally, I’d like to extend a special thanks to Michael Steidl, Managing Director of the IPTC, who is personally involved in almost every aspect of what we do.
Join us for IPTC’s Autumn Meeting 2016 in Berlin! Anyone interested in IPTC’s work can attend our face-to-face meetings, held three times a year, or take part in regular conference call sessions as a guest. Our meetings are the perfect opportunity to network with industry peers, learn about emerging industry topics from leading professionals, and simplify product development with technical standards.
The venue for the Autumn 2016 Meeting is dpa Headquarter Berlin, Markgrafenstraße 20, 10969 Berlin. Please contact us for hotel accommodations and conference registration information.
The agenda will include Video Day on 25 October: IPTC will release and introduce its new Video Metadata Hub Recommendation. Speakers from video makers, video suppliers, video publishers and system vendors will discuss how video workflows can be improved.
Additionally, the IPTC membership will hold its Annual General Meeting. Locations for IPTC’s three face-to-face meetings per year are rotated worldwide, with at least one meeting held in Europe annually.
Interested in attending? Contact Us, please.
At our three-day summer meeting in Stockholm, 13-15 June 2016, about 30 IPTC member delegates and 10 invited experts networked and discussed emerging issues and challenges affecting technology and the news industry.
Thanks to the several news agencies and vendors who gave examples of IPTC standards as the backbone of their news exchange systems and products:
Mittmedia about its use of APIs, automated creation of text news by text robots, and data-driven journalism; Profium on the use of multicast; VG on integrating newsrooms with product and technology; Infomaker on its Newspilot publishing platform; Swedish news agency TT on their Toolbox and development of digital content, strategies, and new business; Sourcefabric on its Superdesk publishing platform; Journalism++ on robots – when, where why to start; Fotoware on its digital asset management software FotoWeb. Special thanks to Johan Lindgren and TT for helping us navigate Stockholm, as well as coordinate these presentations.
We approved SportsML 3.0, a major upgrade of the premier open standard for sports data, and NewsML-G2 version 2.23 to further refine the most widely-used standard for representing news and events across all media types.
We also talked about ideas for marketing the IPTC and ways to grow our membership. We will increase our discussion of relevant news and events, as well as information about how the IPTC’s work is applied by news companies every day. We plan to produce more hands-on information about photo metadata as, judging from the traffic to our website, that’s something a lot of people are looking for.
A new and exciting way to get involved with the IPTC is EXTRA: The EXTraction Rules Apparatus. We received a grant from Google’s Digital News Initiative to build and freely distribute a multilingual open-source platform for rules-based classification of news content. If that sounds interesting, then get in touch to learn more.
Please consider joining us for our Autumn Meeting in Berlin (24 – 26 October 2016), which will feature a video workshop day, on 25 October. We plan to launch the Video Metadata Hub recommendation, a single set of video metadata properties covering the entire video workflow, including mappings and guidelines for many existing video standards.
Chairman, IPTC / Director of Information Management, Associated Press
Stockholm photo: Jill Laurinaitis
IPTC’s Summer Meeting takes place 13 June to 15 June in Stockholm. IPTC members, working groups and parties gather three times a year to discuss emerging industry topics, updates to standards and other IPTC projects.
The Summer Meeting will focus on a new major version the standard SportsML 3.0, a final draft of the Video Metadata Hub recommendation and the EXTRA project, funded by a Google DNI grant.
Presentations in Stockholm will be given by IPTC members and invited guests.
The full list of topics and presenters can be found at: https://iptc.org/events/summer-meeting-2016/
The International Press Telecommunications Council’s (IPTC) Photo Metadata Conference 2016, on May 26 in Zagreb (Croatia), will focus on how to “Keep Metadata Alive and Intact” throughout the life cycle of images.
Held annually since 2007, this day-long annual event will address how information can be properly retained when images are moved from one person or system to the next, or through archiving processes. Speakers administrating the sessions – among the industry’s most respected experts in image and data management, digital preservation, information architecture, and photography – will show how metadata is produced, used and preserved in new and innovative ways.
The morning session will cover two topics with multiple presentations: “Protecting Metadata While Using Social Media,” which will discuss results of the IPTC Social Media Photo Metadata Test 2016, including the finding that most photo metadata is removed when uploading or downloading images to many popular social media platforms. Some major media companies will discuss how they protect their metadata through this process. “Strongly Attached Metadata: What You Need to Know,” featuring system vendors and speakers from photo businesses as well as a university, will cover how to apply and organize metadata in an efficient way, to keep it alive in distribution chains.
“Much time and money is spent to protect metadata in in-house systems,” said Michael Steidl, managing director of IPTC and lead of its photo metadata workstream. “Therefore it is a business requirement to protect the descriptive data and rights information from getting lost. This conference will raise awareness and share knowledge about how to keep metadata alive.”
During the afternoon sessions, Steidl will present a close to final draft of the much anticipated “IPTC Video Metadata Hub,” a new technical recommendation which has been in development by IPTC since 2014 and is usable across many existing video standards. Sarah Saunders, expert in procurement and implementation of digital asset management systems, will also present the “Cultural Heritage Photo Metadata Panel” for Adobe software, which supports a rich set of metadata for cultural heritage objects shown in images. The panel can be downloaded for free and installed on a computer.
The Photo Metadata Conference 2016 will be held again in conjunction with the annual CEPIC Congress, in Zagreb (Croatia). Photographers, small and large photo agencies and libraries, and trade associations from the photo business are all encouraged to attend. Registration is required, either as participant of the CEPIC Congress, or through the Conference’s registration form.
See detailed agenda and speakers.
Metadata is of high value for many parties in the photo business: photographers, libraries, agencies, archives. But many consider this only in a very limited context, not across many transitions in a supply chain or for a longer period.
The IPTC Photo Metadata Conference on 26 May 2016 in Zagreb (Croatia, Europe) will address how to avoid losing information when images are moved from one person or system to the next one or if they are kept in an archive for a long term.
All interested parties are welcome to participate: free-lance photographers, small and large picture agencies and libraries, and trade associations from the photo business.