Flickr, musuems and ‘stitching’

“Commons on Flickr – A report, some concepts and a FAW – the first 3 months from the Powerhouse Museum” (link from Bryan Alexander) is an interesting account of museum use of Flickr. PowerHouse uploaded a total of 600 photos (after 12 weeks).

In the first 4 weeks of the Commons we had more views of the photos than the same photos in the entirety of last year on our own website. It wasn’t as if we made the images on our own website all that hard to find – they were well indexed on our own site by Google, they were made available to the national federated image search/repository Picture Australia, and they also existed in our OPAC. Still, that was no match for Flickr […] The social norms and community behaviours that have emerged and are encouraged around image content in Flickr (as opposed to other photo sharing sites) enable historic photographic collections to become game entities.

There is a discussion of what people are doing – viewing, favouriting, friending, social commenting, tagging, image content tagging, content commenting, content embedding, content remixing and connecting. Some statistics: 103,000 views of the 600 photos uploaded, 2433 tags etc. Impressive figures and a useful discussion of priorities, gains and possible loss.

Another note on Flickr (and you may have seen this or an earlier version of it). I was impressed with PhotoSynth earlier (although even more impressed with the scale-driven browser which I would love to use for presentations), and here is a new example of what Microsoft Research and Washington University are doing together. This one is called Finding paths through the world’s photos (thanks Gabriel for the link, from Siggraph 2008).


The presentation is fairly technical but very visual. In a way, this is about creating as ‘realistic’ representations as possible in the computer – in my mind not always as interesting as some other uses of digital representation, but still interesting (not least in finding, merging and representing collective data) and very impressive.