This post started its journey with an email from Chris Gould (a member of staff at the NSIC, Canberra) to the AUSPIN listserv. It has developed into an expedition into tagging and accessibility.
Chris had attended a talk by George Oates (program manager for Flickr’s Commons project and former chief designer for Flickr) at the National Library of Australia (4 December 2008). This is Paul Hagon‘s listing of the talk:
Human Traffic, General Public
If there’s one thing about Web 2.0, it’s that we’re realising that there are actually people using the internet. It’s no longer about Human to Computer interaction, but rather Human to Human. The Commons on Flickr is an opportunity for Flickr members to participate in describing the world’s publicly held photography collections. The key goals of The Commons on Flickr are to firstly show you hidden treasures in the world’s public photography archives, and secondly to show how your input and knowledge can help make these collections even richer.
(See too Ruth Ellisons’ tweet, Maggie Fox’s friendfeed and this blog post)
This is a link to news of George’s presentation at the National Digital Forum in New Zealand (Forum Handbook). Louise posted this report of George’s talk in New Zealand.
Her report includes these points:
- We need to “lose control”, to put aside some of our traditional duties and way of doing things and ‘release’ your collections to the viewer. It’s okay to put a digital image or information on a platform like Flickr, with metadata which is incomplete, or which might be inaccurate. Time is limited, staffing is limited, money is limited, you can’t do everything, but your community (be it local or international) will do it for you.
- On online communities like Flickr viewers can correct the inaccuracies; they can contribute by adding tags, names, dates, locations, context, they can translate the information into another language, they can share it with a friend, they can add their own stories and their personal responses to an image, they can mix it and mash it up to create new works. In contributing they add value to your collections and broaden the collective knowledge of your community.
Courtney Johnson has provided more information about developments in New Zealand:
National Library NZ on The Commons (27 November) (News of going live at 5pm)
National Library NZ on The Commons’ photostream (Photographs uploaded 24 November)
George’s post Sweet suxteen! (Including Courtney’s video introduction) (27 November)
96 Hours on The Commons on Flickr (1 December)
“One of the nicest things to see is that the NZ Flickr community has been hard at working tagging, commenting, and sharing back.”
This Flickr post noted that “There are about 20 million unique tags on Flickr today. 20 million! They are the bread and butter of what makes our search work so beautifully. Simply by association, tags create emergent collections of words that reinforce meaning.”
Artichoke’s blog post gave a teacher’s view of George’s NZ talk.
Paul Hagon explores mashing Flickr and Google streetview on his personal website .
I found Catherine Styles’ (2008) staff paper for the National Archives of Australia Push for Pull The circuit of findability, use and enrichment whilst researching the post.
This is the link to George Oates’ photostream
Chris’s email that started this expedition concludes with this note:
Commons on Flickr – a report, some concepts and a FAQ – the first 3 months from the Powerhouse Museum
…In the first 4 weeks of the Commons we had more views of the photos than the same photos in the entirety of last year on our own website. It wasn’t as if we made the images on our own website all that hard to find – they were well indexed on our own site by Google, they were made available to the national federated image search/repository Picture Australia, and they also existed in our OPAC. Still, that was no match for Flickr…
The Commons was launched on 16 January 2008, with a pilot project in partnership with The Library of Congress. Events of the last year have provided a wonderful opportunity to consider how institutions deal with connective knowledge and the relative autonomy given to those who want to create and add metadata to enrich digital objects.
PS This is my Flickr photostream (not so much a stream, more a phototrickle!)