Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Photo Categorization Different Needs for Different Users

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Over the last few days i have come across two separate conversation about taxonomies on Flickr that i thought were interesting. Flickr is a photo (and now video) site that has become increasingly popular yet i still run into people frequently who don't know about flickr (yes, shocks me as well). When i ask what they use to share pictures they mention sites like Snapfish or Kodak Easyshare were the model is still more share and buy then organize. Flickr allows users, especially Pro users who pay $24.95 per year to use a variety of ways to 'organize' their photos by using collections, sets and tags.

John Suler has an interesting project going on using Flickr about The CyberPsychology of Flickr and his recent addition was about Categorizing Images which came with the photo i include in this post. The project is to encourage discussion on how "people in flickr use photographs and images to express themselves, converse with each other, and form relationships as well as groups" and this addition was focused on how flickr users categorize their pictures.

In talking about personal 'taxonomies' he writes: "The categories you start off with may not work well later on. And the way you organize images for your own personal archive may be different than the collections you create for showing your images to others, as in flickr." In my world of taxonomies, we call this audience centric views- different audiences either by user type, location (e.g. US/UK), or usage purpose, etc.. Well built taxonomies allow this and robust taxonomy management tools enable this. Here is a paper on how the National Library Board of Singapore uses Audience-Centric Taxonomy: Using Taxonomies to Support Heterogeneous User Communities'

The other topic was Keywording for biology/taxonomy/nature photographers using Aperture which i have not used but seems to have a more robust keyword management tool allowing a hierarchy to be built. In the thread Stewart Macdonald highlights one of the things that for example content editors benefit from when a hierarchal taxonomy is presented that allows selection when tagging and that can also automatically expand the user-selected terms using related terms from their taxonomy system (and it does not have to exclusive of free text tags either!).

Stewart writes in response to someone who suggests that he just add keywords and then use search to find photos: "The hierarchy is important to me. If I didn't have nested keywords, I'd have to assign the following keywords individually to any pics of crocodiles:





Crocodylus porosus

Being able to just assign 'Crocodylus porosus' and have all the 'upstream' keywords included too is a bit quicker.

I am always trying to find 'consumer' examples to illustrate concepts- that although might be different in a corporate environment still help the user understand some of the benefits- so these things and flickr- delight me.

Photo credit : jsuler

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