Magazine article Humanities


Magazine article Humanities


Article excerpt


With help from an NEH Digital Startup Grant, Dartmouth College's Tiltfactor Laboratory has developed two experimental digital games in which players provide information tags for archival images in the college's Rauner Special Collections Library.

In Zen Tag, a single player is prompted to describe the archival photo that pops up, or a pair of players can work together, tag-team, so to speak, matching each other's descriptions with the correct images. In the other game, Catty gory, a player is asked for specific information about an image - what colors are dominant, what is the action, what kind of mood does the picture have? "This game is less about what archive data a player would put in," game designer and professor Mary Flanagan recently told The Dartmouth, "but it is valuable data for a researcher who wants to find frightening or somber images and is looking for an idea or looking for a certain theme."

Flanagan and her team at Tiltfactor were faced with a problem familiar to collections worldwide - how to quickly and accurately provide digital works with searchable, detailed information, or metadata. In this case, the professional archivists enlist the help of amateurs (crowdsourcing), although if someone has expertise in a field, his or her tags are given special weight Later, trained archivists check the tags for accuracy.

Unlike other crowdsourcing programs, such as Google Image Tagger, Tiltfactor will share its code with other organizations. "This will change how we as archivists do our jobs," says Peter Carini, an archivist at Rauner and one of the game's developers. "At the end of this experiment, we will have to look at the quality of the data, but I hope to use more of these games in the future."


Five new members have joined the National Council on the Humanities, the twenty-six person advisory committee of NEH. Albert J. Beveridge III, Constance M. Carroll, Cathy N. Davidson, Paula Barker Duffy, and Martha Wagner Weinberg were nominated by President Barack Obama in the fall of 2010 and confirmed by the U.S. Senate on May 26, 2011. The National Council on the Humanities meets three times a year to review grant applications and to advise the NEH chairman. National Council members serve staggered six-year terms. …

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