Way back when, I think threatened to do a post relating to some of the work of the still-ongoing RLG Partners Social Metadata Working Group. Since we currently are in the process of preparing to present the varied results of our multifaceted research over the past year plus, I will hold off for now. But nearing the conclusion of this project made me look upon the long-anticipated launch of the UW Libraries Flickr Commons site late last month with even more interest.
On February 22, 2010, the UW Libraries became only the second academic library in the United States to join this initiative, which was begun by the Library of Congress in late 2008. Since then, some 33 (and counting) cultural heritage institutions worldwide have joined The Commons. Although one of the initial goals of the Library of Congress in partnering with Flickr had been to solicit user-tagging of unidentified photographs, the phenomenon has since expanded to include much more.
The UW Libraries Digital Collections Flickr site is offering up a selection of digitized images with no known copyright restrictions that have been available previously (and still are!) through the UW Libraries Digital Collections site. Many of these original items on the Digital Collections site are, of course, from the collections of the UW Special Collections Division. While the UW Libraries’ primary goal in participating in Flickr Commons is to share our unique holdings with an even broader public, people definitely also have been taking the opportunity to supply metadata!
Timed to coincide with the the 2010 Winter Olympics, the first UW Flickr collection offered up a set of photographs with a winter sports theme. When I first contemplated writing this post, the most-commented upon (at 13) was the one above, although a related one of a staged toboggan accident and one of an early Yukon curling team subsequently have proven to be equally popular (why is 13 the magic number, I wonder?). As a cataloger, it certainly is instructive to see what other people feel is important to describe. To me, “bravery” undoubtedly was the most unusual tag for this picture.
It will be interesting to see what comes of this experiment. Will we ever truly understand what this image really represents? I also note, for the record, that two examples of the Libraries’ own supplied metadata describe this item in at least two slightly different ways. See here and here.
New UW image sets will be added monthly to Flickr on the second Wednesday of the month. I guess that’s tomorrow! Happy tagging!