The roles of tagging in the online curation of photographs

Barton, David (2018) The roles of tagging in the online curation of photographs. Discourse, Context and Media, 22. pp. 39-45. ISSN 2211-6958

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This paper explores the variety of uses people make of the tagging feature on the photo-sharing site Flickr. The site developers intended uses are primarily to build a taxonomy to make the images on the site easily searchable. Data from examples of Flickr tags and interviews with selected users reveal that some tagging fits with this aim, whilst other uses challenge and subvert the intended uses. Tagging is used to do at least the following: identifying existing information in a photo; adding relevant new information; expressing affective stance towards the images; addressing specific audiences; making unrelated ‘asides’; and for creative play. The discussion is then broadened by examining a dispute between Flickr and its users about changes being made to the site: this act as a ‘telling case’ (Mitchell, 1984) as people articulate what the site enables them to do and what it hinders. The dispute generated a thread of more than 29,000 comments, making a corpus of 1,774,401 words. Using corpus linguistics tools the paper demonstrates how users contribute to curating this site, including their uses of tagging. Steps involved in curating the site are identified, including a focus on verbs of curation. Overall, the paper contributes to the analysis of a set of ‘new’ literacy practices and to understanding digital curation. The methods of the two studies reported here productively combine detailed methods of qualitative research with the breadth of quantitative analysis.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Discourse, Context and Media
Additional Information:
This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Discourse, Context & Media. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Discourse, Context & Media, 22, 2018 DOI: 10.1016/j.dcm.2017.006.001
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? taggingflickrcurationtaxonomyonlinepracticescultural studiescommunication ??
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Deposited On:
16 Mar 2018 11:22
Last Modified:
31 Dec 2023 00:50