The politics of metadata in participatory approaches: Opportunities, practices, and conflicts

This workshop, at the conference Di­gital Hu­man­it­ies in the Nor­dic Coun­tries 7 March 2018 at the University of Helsinki, seeks to expand critical perspectives on metadata in relation to public cultural heritage image collections online.

Crowdsourcing, social media platforms for community engagement, linked open data, and other participatory and open science practices, create new challenges due to the character of the networked publics involved and the established structures between and within institutions, but also new opportunities and practices when it comes to understanding and defining our shared images. Therefore, critical perspectives on metadata in relation to photographic collections online are vital. This calls for an interdisciplinary approach in the intersection between computer science, image studies, and cultural studies.

For this half-day workshop, therefore, we invite participants to look more closely at different types of participatory practices online in relation to metadata production in the cultural heritage domain, and at different levels of interaction. Possible sites of analysis could be the interaction between participants, the participation in the work by different stakeholders, the potentially privileged levels of interaction with the metadata, or tensions in the agency of the participants in relation to the task.

Suggested topics and inquiries for the workshop

How do we develop open, image-archiving ecosystems that involve a diversity of stakeholders in the cultural heritage domain, from providers to consumers?

  • Controlling levels of: access; transparency, secrecy, closeness, connectedness, alienation
  • Relation between control dynamics and power relationships outside the technology framework.
  • Differentiations in entry/exit points to the platform
  • Tensions between individual scoring systems and collective sharing processes
  • Photo tagging behaviours across languages

How do we handle the tension between the institution’s need for stability, continuity and control, and dynamic participatory practices online?

  • Norms about crowds, collaboration and democracy, exclusive groups and open publics
  • Stakeholders’ different cultural assumptions
  • The archiving practices and power
  • Social tagging

How can community be understood and developed around the image archive?

  • Communication needs within the crowd
  • Avenues of communication to support collaboration
  • Relations between the crowd and the institution
  • Navigating intersecting communities in crowd settings
  • Crowd dynamics

To participate, submit a 2-4 pages position-paper and following the format guidelines for the conference, Springer LNCS templates. Send submissions and inquiries to the following email address:

Deadline is Thursday, February 8, 2018.

At least one author of the position paper must attend the workshop. All participants must register for both the workshop and for at least one day of the conference.