There’s no shortage of fabulous archival material lurking in college and university collections. The trick is finding it.
Without good metadata—labels that tell researchers and search engines what’s in a photograph, say—those archives are as good as closed to many students and scholars. But many institutions don’t have the resources or manpower to tag their archives thoroughly.
Enter Metadata Games, an experiment in harnessing the power of the crowd to create archival metadata. A team of designers at Dartmouth College, working with archivists there, has created game interfaces that invite players to tag images, either playing alone or with a partner (sometimes a human, sometimes a computer). Solo players think up tags to describe the images they see; in the two-player scenario, partners try to come up with the same tag or tags.