Tag Archives: commons

How useful can you make a micro-collection online?

18 Oct


Badges by Ellen Munro, on Flickr

This term I’m not at Birkbeck, I’m at UEL. The MA Museum Cultures has a module-swap arrangement with UEL’s MA in Heritage Studies, and so I’m going to Cyprus every week to study the Heritage and Visual Culture module with the artist and photographer Roshini Kempadoo.

The second coursework option has a ‘creative’ path, for which I’m going to attempt to create a very small online archive of my own, of (mostly political) badges that I wore during the 1980s and 1990s. Each badge will be accompanied by two stories/narratives: one about the campaign that the badge represents; and one about why I wore it, and what I was doing at the time I wore it. I’m planning to host the images of the badges and the campaign stories on Flickr, and then embed the images together with the personal stories on a hosted wordpress.com blog.

Now I’m not expecting a call from Europeana or the Culture Grid anytime soon. But one of the things I’d like to use this project to explore is how useful/usable to others a micro-collection like this might be. Should I be trying to make it possible for others to search and access my tiny collection alongside other collections large and small? In my professional milieu there are lots of debates about the pros and cons of aggregation — but if I were serious about making this available for others to use in the context of cultural heritage, what should I do?

In particular, I’m thinking about:

Licensing: What’s the most useful licence to apply to both images and text? I’d like to be credited for the texts I’ve written if they’re used elsewhere.

Linked data? Does this have any application here, or is that a thing for big institutions? How would I even start?

Specialist aggregators? Is this a Community Archive?

Other repositories? I’m planning to create quite nice hi-res images of the badges. Should I also put them somewhere like the Wikimedia Commons (where they’ll be divorced from the stories I’ve attached to them)?

I’d be really interested in your thoughts and comments about this, from whatever angle they come. Thanks.


Great Tate?

14 May

Lots to think about in Tate’s Online Stategy. A few things extracted from it, that I think are worthy of contemplation & emulation:

  • We should move on from considering Tate Online as ‘Tate’s fifth gallery’ to making online, quite simply, a dimension of practically everything Tate does, from research and conservation to fundraising and public programmes.
  • Tate will become more porous though a move to the emergence of individuals within Tate expressing their views and engaging directly with audiences
  • The graphic design will be clean and contemporary. There will be few individually designed microsites
  • A single user login will be built across all systems so that users can administer all their site preferences (collection perspectives, email bulletin settings, online course progress, My Collection, ecommerce logins, membership, patrons, shop, comments, forums etc.) and push notifications to email and social media in a single place.
  • The online collection will be moved back to the heart of the website making it the hub around which much of the website radiates.
  • The site will integrate with existing social networks (Facebook, Flickr, YouTube etc.) and partner them on specific projects rather than trying to create a competing social networking website.
  • Each research centre and major project will be provided with a project blog to update their specialist audiences on developments and findings and to invite contributions from third parties. The blog will exist for the period of each project and then be mothballed as a record of the project.
  • Unmediated interaction with online audiences will be new to almost everyone involved and therefore training, new policies and new skills will need to be developed to help Tate staff shape communities.
  • Key to our approach must be a recognition that social media websites are not just a new platform to advertise our activities or promote our brand. We must transparently interact with audiences and, though this is labour intensive, the result will be an engaged audience with whom we have a deep relationship.
  • Consumption of online content has shifted towards users as authors and editors, especially through social media and online publishing platforms (blogs, YouTube, Flickr, etc.). We shall embrace audience creativity and personal ambitions, though new end user licences, empowering them to reuse and remix Tate content.
  • Most of the content on Tate Online is published under restrictive end-user licences. We shall audit these and review what content could be released under a more permissive licence that would enable users to reuse and remix this content as part of their own creative projects or research.
  • User-generated content will be pervasive throughout the website in the form of user comments, discussion threads, crowdsourcing of data and creative online communities, including Tate Kids, Young Tate and Creative Spaces. One of the challenges this raises is how to communicate the authority of Tate’s research and scholarship amongst a myriad of voices and opinions. However, we see this as a problem that can be resolved with design rather than with architecture, and thus user voices and Tate voices will be intermixed.
  • The web will continue to evolve rapidly and Tate must be in a position to take advantage of these changes and move with the times. It is therefore critical that a scalable technical and information architecture is developed that will allow the website to grow and change quickly.