For a while now I’ve been interested in how we can do a better job of recording people’s thoughts and impressions about art online. Museums spend a lot of time caring for our collections and making sure that our information about art is “oh so perfect”, but when it comes right down to it, it’s really amazing the types and varieties of new insights you come across when you just ask people what they think!
That’s why I was pretty intrigued by a new tool called Moody that lets you “Mood Tag” your iTunes playlists with how these songs make you feel.
What a great idea! With this tool you simply click a colored square to assign a degree of “mood” to each song as you are listening to them. This morning I was air drumming along to “Lucretia MacEvil” on my way into work… Personally I’d tag that with Intense and Happy! However, chillin’ out with my Sunday morning paper and cup of coffee seems to be more in line with some Stan Getz bossa nova grooves (i.e. Calm, Happy).
Here at the museum we’ve been working on ways to use social tagging to help people find our art more easily and to be able to describe it in their own words. You can see this in action by checking out any of our artworks online. One with some great tags is “Young Woman in Blue” by Edgar Degas.
You can also checkout our TagCloud and click on any term to find other art from our collection that users have tagged. I think this can be a great way to stumble onto new works of art that you might otherwise have a hard time finding with a search tool.
I think it would be really interesting to start collecting thoughts from our visitors about what their emotion or moods are related to particular pieces of art as well! Moody gets it right by using the squares as a metaphore for mood instead of making people come up with their own words to describe this. This sort of non-text based tagging will be really useful as we try to come up with new ways of using the social tagging data that well collect from our visitors.
There are several of us in the museum community thinking about ways to use social tagging and what it means for museums to solicit information from and listen to their users in these ways. IMA and a group of other instiutions has been funded to do research into this as part of a project called steve.museum (http://www.steve.museum) Please check out the website for more information!
Or better yet! Help us with our current round of tagging experiments! You can pop on and tag some art by registering at http://tagger.steve.museum You’ll be shown some art from a number of world class institutions and asked to tag them with your own descriptions. Your tags will help us better understand how we can use these methods to make art easier to find and more engaging in an online setting. Thanks!