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Gaming the Archives


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Mary Flanagan

Mary Flanagan, researcher and director of Dartmouth's Tiltfactor Laboratory

Photo courtesy of Dartmouth University

Dartmouth College researchers have developed Metadata Games, an experiment that uses crowdsourcing to create archival metadata. The researchers created game interfaces that enable players to tag images, either playing alone or with a human or computerized partner. Lone players come up with tags to describe the images they see, while the dual players try to come up with the same tag or tags.

Metadata Games was developed by Dartmouth professor Mary Flanagan, who also directs the Tiltfactor laboratory, which she says is dedicated to exploring "critical play--a method of using games and play to investigate issues and ideas."

The researchers tested the game interfaces by selecting about 200 images from Dartmouth's archives, and inviting a small group of players to participate in a pilot project. The players generated 6,250 tags, with about 80 percent of the tags being deemed useful, according to Flanagan.

Flanagan and Dartmouth archivist Peter Carini stress that archivists should supervise the process, to check the quality of the metadata being compiled, sift out skewed results, and to reassure the archival community that the results will comply with its standards.

From The Chronicle of Higher Education
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