Museums are Tagging!
For some time, 8 museums have been asking museum-goers to tag their collections in an attempt to see if tagging improves access to their collections. The answer was a definite “yes”, so the museum community is continuing down this road.
The project, called “steve,” is also a set of open-source tagging tools. “Steve” is not an abbreviation or acronym or even the name of a person associated with the project; its just a “friendly-sounding name.” This project has allowed those working in museums to see how their patrons view their collections, providing additional perspectives to their own, as well as searching across collections to make connections.
As a result of the preliminary project, additional projects are being started. One of them is based in Austin. The New Media Consortium is heading up a project that will help make the tools more accessible to more museums.
The three-year project will apply the research findings to make steve accessible to a wider variety of institutions and people. During the next year, steve researchers plan to work with at least 30 museums and cultural heritage institutions of all sizes and collection types to adopt steve. Together, they will explore how social tagging engages and rewards the visitor; what are the uses and benefits of social tagging for institutions and their visitors; and what kinds of support and resources are required by institutions hoping to institute social tagging practices.
MINITEX, a library network based in Minnesota, is a partner in this project.
Another project, headed by the University of Maryland, will work on weighting tags so that those provided by trustworthy patrons will percolate to the top of the list.
A really interesting project we should be watching. We want to be one of those organizations they connect to outside their group.