I’ve just finished a presentation to art museum folk at the Sites of Communication 3 conference at the National Gallery of Victoria, and true to form there was quite a bit of interest in social tagging. There seems to now be widespread awareness of the problem of the ‘semantic gap’ between the language of art museums audiences (especially as they are being seen to be diversifying) and that of art curators and researchers. And there is increasing interest addressing this problem.
Thus when museum people ask about collection tagging projects other than our own, I send them off to the Steve.museum project website. Invariably they come back, having dipped their toes into some of the research material, with more questions. Jennifer Trant has produced a rather excellent podcast summary of the project to date and some of the preliminary results emerging from it. The podcast is a good example of making what is otherwise a time consuming and text heavy task an easy-to-digest and informative 12 minute presentation – complete with a few slides. (It uses the M4A format so you will need Quicktime or iTunes.)
Steve.museum is doing some excellent and very considered research that will re-assure many tag skeptics and no doubt lead to more and better tagging implementations down the track. Whether the Steve results will be able to be applied directly to collections outside of visual art – social history and natural history collection especially – remains to be seen.