National Digital Forum: Day 2 – By the People: social tagging…

steve.jpgThis is going to be my last post on sessions from the conference. There were a lot of other very interesting speakers, I’ve just run out of time and need to catch my plane back!

Susan Chun from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York presented on the Steve project. Susan is the General Manager for Collections Information Planning for The Met. Steve for those of you not familiar is a social tagging project involving mostly American Art Museums. The impetus for the project was that visitors were having trouble finding works of art on the Met’s online collection. Susan mentioned, the “semantic gap between the public and scholars” that descriptions written by the museum didn’t, in some cases, match the ones that visitors were looking for.

Susan gave an example of renaissance painting that a visitor emailed an inquiry about. The visitor could provide lots of detailed information, but none of it matched the descriptions the museum gave to the painting. Steve: The Art Museum Social Tagging Project was developed to help address problems like this one.
Steve is a collaborative project, and the product is an open source software package. Currently, version 1.0 is available and apparently some developers are beginning to modify and expand Steve’s features.

Susan continued by mentioning that the group has received funding to conduct two years of research on social tagging. They are going to be looking at questions exploring the nature of tags: “Are tags real words?” “Do they match existing descriptions?” “Are they terms that searchers use?” “Are they appropriate to the work? Accurate?”

The group is going to share the results using the “open data model” –providing all of the materials to anyone who is interested. I look forward to seeing what they come up with. There’s lot’s more about the project on the Steve website and even a discussion list that you can join.

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