Museums and the Web

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Yvonne Hellin-Hobbs

Hi, I'm a new member so am not sure entirely how this all works yet but excited to find out. I am currently putting together a research proposal for an MA dissertation on museums and the web. I am interested in the Steve. museums project and wondered if anyone knew of any similar experiments taking place in England. I know a lot of museums are going down the digitising route, but are any allowing feedback from their audience? I'd appreciate any info anyone has. Other European sites would be of interest too. Thanks, and looking forward to some interesting conversations! research report available: Tagging, Folksonomy and Art Museums

Tagging, Folksonomy and Art Museums: Results of’s research

J. Trant, Archives & Museum Informatics

Tagging has proven attractive to art museums as a means of enhancing access to on-line collections. The research project studied tagging and the relationship of the resulting folksonomy to professionally created museum documentation. A variety of research questions were proposed, and methods for answering them explored. Works of art were assembled to be tagged, a tagger was deployed, and tagging encouraged. A folksonomy of 36,981 terms was gathered, comprising 11,944 terms in 31,031 term/work pairs. The analysis of the tagging of these works – and the assembled folksonomy – is reported here, and further work described.

New Article: Tagging, Folksonomy and Art Museums: Early Experiments and Ongoing Research


Tagging has proven attractive to art museums as a means of enhancing the indexing of online collections. This paper examines the state of the art in tagging within museums and introduces the research project, and its study of tagging behaviour and the relationship of the resulting folksonomy to professionally created museum documentation. A variety of research questions are proposed and methods for answering them discussed. Experiments implemented in the research collaboration are discussed, preliminary results suggested, and further
work described.

J Trant. Tagging, Folksonomy and Art Museums: Early Experiments and Ongoing Research, Journal of Digital Information, Vol 10, No 1 (2009) available at :

New Article: Studying Social Tagging and Folksonomy: A Review and Framework


This paper reviews research into social tagging and folksonomy (as reflected in about 180 sources published through December 2007). Methods of researching the contribution of social tagging and folksonomy are described, and outstanding research questions are presented. This is a new area of research, where theoretical perspectives and relevant research methods are only now being defined. This paper provides a framework for the study of folksonomy, tagging and social tagging systems. Three broad approaches are identified, focusing first, on the folksonomy itself (and the role of tags in indexing and retrieval); secondly, on tagging (and the behaviour of users); and thirdly, on the nature of social tagging systems (as socio-technical frameworks).

J Trant, Studying Social Tagging and Folksonomy: A Review and Framework, Journal of Digital Information, Vol 10, No 1 (2009) available at

LC Flickr Commons Report Available

the Library of Congress has made a detailed report of their experiments with the Flickr Commons available on their web site at

They note the following in their summary:

there's no such thing as 'museum content'

There's a sentence from the Museums and the Web 2008 Proceedings that keeps coming back to me, as i think about things as wide-ranging as tag analysis for, and the nature of professional training in museums, archives and libraries.

When discussing the use of museum-materials posted on YouTube a group of museum professionals noted that “the people watching this were not searching for ‘museum’ content; they were searching for "calligraphy" content” (Alexander et al., 2008).

upcoming presentation: research results @ mcn

can we learn from tagging?: Tagging might give us some insight into visitor principal investigator of the IMLS research grant, wrapping up this december, i'll be presenting further results from our tagging study at the upcoming museum computer network conference:

Friday November 14, 2008
Grand Hyatt, Washington, DC

Should You Care about Social Tagging? – Findings and Recommendations from

tagging and folksonomy keynote @ DC2008

tags, search terms, and museum documentationi gave a keynote this morning at the Dublin Core Metadata Meeting - DC2008 on access to art museums on-line: a role for social tagging and folksonomy? that reports on more of the tagging data analysis. this talk built on what i reported at NKOS last week [ public and professional vocabularies. presentation @ NKOS 2008] and extended it to include some thoughts on user-generated metadata – useful in the context of DC, which began its life as a format for encoding user-created metadata – and a bit of work about the relationships between tags and search logs.

my slides are here (without some of the funky builds).

while we'd hypothesized that there might be a tight relationship between tags and search terms, what we found was a much looser coupling. whether this is a self-fulilling prophesy – because searches on the kinds of subject and genre terms that they use to tag fail, people don't use them – or because description and retrieval vocabularies vary at some other level still needs some thought. that's what the examples we looked at seemed to indicate, and a place i'll be looking further. public and professional vocabularies. presentation @ NKOS 2008

Usefulness of Tags: a sample set of worksDavid and i presented the first of the research results at the NKOS workshop today. the [many] slides are attached to this post. the take aways, though, can be easily summarized:

85%+ of tags are not found in museum documentation
60%+ tags don't match vocabularies [and those that do match ambiguously]
most tags can't be mined from other sources [like published catalogues or other scholarly works]

Public tagging vocabulary is different from the vocabulary in museum professional documentation. So tagging does contribute.

Contribute to what? well, we still need to look further into the details, particularly the relationships between tags and search terms to talk about that with more confidence. Watch for that from the Dublin Core (DC2008) meeting next week.

upcoming presentations on tagging and art museums

the fall travel season is starting up again, and we're in Europe this week and next presenting research results from the project. watch for the following:

Public and professional vocabularies: comparing user tagging with museum documents and documentation

The 7th European Networked Knowledge Organization Systems (NKOS) Workshop at the 12th ECDL Conference, Aarhus, Denmark
Friday September 19th 2008 [see the program on-line]

David and i will be talking about the differences between public tagging vocabularies and the language of art cataloguing and curators.

and tagging art. research and results

International Conference on Dublin Core and Metadata Applications, Berlin, Germany
Tuesday 23 September 2008 [see the program on-line]

i'm keynoting DC2008 – talking about the role of tagging in retrieval-focused museum metadata.

We're are looking forward to catching up with old friends, and – of course – i'll be posting notes and thoughts as we go. wins honorary mention at PRIX ARS ELECTRONICA

The PRIX ARS ELECTRONICA were announced yesterday, and received an honorary mention in the Digital Communities category.

Slidecast of Seeing Tibetan Art through Social Tags

For those who are interested in social tagging, or who might have missed the Community Engagement session at MW2008, I have uploaded my slides "Seeing Tibetan Art through Social Tags" along with audio track to Slideshare: announces facebook application: tag art in your profile

steve on has released enhancements to the steve tagger. you can now:

  • share images and tags
  • invite others to participate, and
  • display your tagged works on a Facebook profile pages, invite FB friends to tag, and see the most popular tagged works of art.

PDF- Now we have Web 2.0 tools, how do we use them?

Several people asked for a copy of my presentation, so here is a pdf of it.
Thanks for the attending/participating! term review: lots of useful tags

steve term review tool: during th research project, each tag is looked at by museum staff, and evaluated.

At the session at MCN we devoted a significant amount of time to "Term Review" –– what we're calling the qualitative study of tags by professionals from participating museums within the context of the research project. It fed really nicely into a discussion at the project team research meeting post-MCN.

For some, the very possibility that tags contributed by taggers of works of art might be reviewed by museums is antithetical to the ethos of user tagging. But, within the context of it's essential for developing our understanding of the contribution that tagging and folksonomy might make to the accessibility of works of art on-line.

How, for example, can we respond to our colleagues' concern that tags will be inaccurate | misleading | misspelled | mis-guided, if we don't look at them and see if they are? How can we say that they might be useful, if we haven't looked?