Joho the BlogLibrary of Congress partners with Flickr...and you (= socialized metadata) - Joho the Blog

Library of Congress partners with Flickr…and you (= socialized metadata)

Very interesting posting from the venerable Library of Congress on its blog (which by itself is pretty cool). Here’s a snippet:

Out of some 14 million prints, photographs and other visual materials at the Library of Congress, more than 3,000 photos from two of our most popular collections are being made available on our new Flickr page, to include only images for which no copyright restrictions are known to exist.

The real magic comes when the power of the Flickr community takes over. We want people to tag, comment and make notes on the images, just like any other Flickr photo, which will benefit not only the community but also the collections themselves. For instance, many photos are missing key caption information such as where the photo was taken and who is pictured. If such information is collected via Flickr members, it can potentially enhance the quality of the bibliographic records for the images.

We’re also very excited that, as part of this pilot, Flickr has created a new publication model for publicly held photographic collections called “The Commons.” Flickr hopes—as do we—that the project will eventually capture the imagination and involvement of other public institutions, as well.

Except for my general nervousness about putting this stuff into a privately held, for-profit organization, I think this is quite cool. It has the advantage of putting the data where the people already are. As a footnote to the posting says, it takes a photo of a grain elevator as an example “because it helps illustrate that there are active Flickr user groups for even such diverse subjects as grain elevators.” As the Commons page says,

The key goals of this pilot project are to firstly give you a taste of the hidden treasures in the huge Library of Congress collection, and secondly to how your input of a tag or two can make the collection even richer.

You’re invited to help describe photographs in the Library of Congress’ collection on Flickr, by adding tags or leaving comments.

Gives me little goosebumps.

And, by the way, the photos are fantastic. [Tags: ]

14 Responses to “Library of Congress partners with Flickr…and you (= socialized metadata)”

  1. […] is GREAT news, the Library of Congress today announced a pilot project with Flickr to populate an account […]

  2. […] first on David Weinberger’s JOHO the Blog (Library of Congress Partners with Flickr…and You) and then the official Library of Congress Blog (My Friend Flickr: A Match Made in Photo Heaven), […]

  3. […] you wan to read more about this you can read a blog post by David Weinberger or go directly to the original […]

  4. […] Like David Weinberger, I’m excited by the Flickr Commons project with its first effort, asking us to tag and identify Library of Congress photos and find the gems in the mine. This is similar to Chris Willis’ and I hope they’re not in deadly competition; I’d like to see a true commons of linked, tagged, commented-upon media artifacts. […]

  5. David,

    Even though I love flickr, I had the same misgiving about the LoC using putting its tagging eggs in this private basket, and I wonder whether there are alternatives to this. Are you aware of other sites, services or platforms–alternatives to Flickr–that you would feel more comfortable with?


  6. is set up for these kind of things, and they’re more open than even flickr. But they don’t have the same tagging folksonomy phenomenon that flickr has, nor a core photo area.

    A marriage of the Commons fo The Library of Congress with The Internet Archive using it as a jumping off point for a photo collection area would be ideal, IMHO.

  7. don’t be a dingleberry… since these 3000 photos are now certified as
    being free of copyright restrictions, you — _and_anyone_else_ — can
    (and should!) feel empowered to mirror them, thus freeing them from
    a future as some prisoner of a “privately-held for-profit organization”…


  8. bowerbird,

    First of all, I reserve the right to be a dingleberry. You can’t take that from me!

    Second, my concern is more for the metadata. I’m not very worried about this, and I understand the advantage of putting the photos where the people (and thus metadata suppliers) are, but, well, as my post says, it concerns me a little.

    SamW, I don’t have a good alternative where there are masses of people already collected.

  9. > First of all, I reserve the right to be a dingleberry.
    > You can’t take that from me!

    i sincerely appreciate a good sense of humor. thank you! :+)


  10. […] that you can find professional uses for. One of these tools was Flickr. Well, it turns out (thanks David for pointing it out) that the Library of Congress has come up with a pretty awesome way to use Flickr. The project is […]

  11. […] first on David Weinberger’s JOHO the Blog (Library of Congress Partners with Flickr…and You) and then the official Library of Congress Blog (My Friend Flickr: A Match Made in Photo Heaven), […]

  12. cool pics

  13. TY a ton for posting, it was very informative and helped tons.. Hello webmaster I like your post. great outstanding pleasing.

  14. When I view your RSS feed it simply gives me a webpage of weird text, may be the problem on my reader? TY for putting this up, it was very useful and explained tons.

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