Monday, January 31, 2005

A Community-based Tagging Project

So, I've been thinking and talking a lot about tags lately. Not just the nptech tag in del.icio.us. Or even its use in flickr and, as Katrin suggested, 43things. I've also been thinking about the ways in which they can be used to build and support community in local geographies.

I've been talking with my colleagues about the kinds of projects that can be developed with tagging. Here's an example of the kind of thing we've been brainstorming.

So imagine this: you send out 100 digital cameras to each of ten libraries. On a specific day, the libraries bring together volunteers and community members. They teach the community members -- kids maybe or...? -- to use the cameras. They send them out to take pictures. The volunteers help the community members to get the photos from the camera to the web using the public access terminals in the libraries. Then they put all the photos up on flickr.

Everyone in all ten cities uses one common tag for their photos -- say "community project" -- and then they add the city name. From then on, the tags are whatever the photographer thinks is appropriate. At the end of the day, the participating photographers keep the cameras and their newly setup flickr account.

So what comes of this?

Well, the libraries get to meet some interested volunteers. The community members get introduced to the library as a resource beyond shelves of books. The public access terminals get some play. The community members get to produce and share some content.

Now, the common tag can be used to call up all photos taken as a part of this project. Interesting -- maybe you can make an Internet art show out of this. Combined with the city name, local community-based organizations can have access to community created images. Who knows what comes of that? Maybe the library does a place-based art exhibit (people rank the photos as "favorites" those photos are printed and hung in the library).

I don't know all the possibilities but it seems interesting.

What would be required? An organizing partner to do project management, develop the training, help recruit volunteers, and provide assistance with outreach and fundraising. The ten libraries. A corporate partner to donate the cameras. That one or others to provide a hook to volunteers. A funder or two to provide the dollars necessary to support the participating organizations' involvement.

Does anyone know of any projects like this?

(in: proposal, half_baked, tagging, tags, folksonomy)