Tell us what our content is about

locstore.jpgLike David Weinberger, I’m excited by the Flickr Commons project with its first effort, asking us to tag and identify Library of Congress photos and find the gems in the mine. This is similar to Chris Willis’ and I hope they’re not in deadly competition; I’d like to see a true commons of linked, tagged, commented-upon media artifacts.

I remember a year ago talking with a TV executive who got exhausted at the idea of finding and identifying video in their vault. My answer was to open it up and let the people tell you what’s good and what it’s about. Let us forage.

The beauty of opening up archives is that the people will, indeed, tell you what your content is about and find those diamonds. In the long run, the archives will become more valuable than if they are locked behind a toll booth.

  • Doing some indexing is obviously better than not indexing, but the results will probably be inferior.

    There are several problems. If one uses an uncontrolled vocabulary then there are issues with synonyms. If one uses a controlled vocabulary then there are issues of concepts not anticipated in the list.

    The biggest problem is that what is of interest to one person may not be the factor of interest to another. For example, suppose a researcher was trying to track 7-Up advertising, would anyone have identified the 7-Up placard in the image above as worth noting?

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