When I look at the photo with this post, I can probably tell you things about it that you would not know, because we have different expertise. I remember New Mexico of the 1940s, where this photo was taken. As a child I rode several time in the back of a truck that looked just like the one in the picture. (It was really fun!) I also have a memory of a gas station, much like this one. We bought RC Cola there.
Folks who are experts can pass on what they know by linking to and tagging the webpages they respect. This sort of thing has happened spontaneously from the beginning of the internet. A couple of bright guys saw it happening and invented Google. Doing it in a thoroughgoing manner by academic experts is overdue. The answer to complaints that it is hard to find the right webpages to study are best resolved when experts who know subjects to link to those pages and tag them with keywords from their expertise.
The following is from the new report by the Library of Congress of their Photos on Flick project. What follows from the report of this project describes challenges the academic world has not yet met. Opening educational resources online is vital. Experts need also “to give them love” as the search engine optimization experts say, by optimizing them in ways we can all find them.
The Library of Congress, like many cultural heritage organizations, faces a number of challenges as it seeks to increase discovery and use of its collections. A major concern is making historical and special format materials easier to find in order to be useful for educational and other pursuits. At the same time, resources are limited to provide detailed descriptions and historical context for the many thousands of items in research collections. The Library also faces competition for the attention of an online community that has ever-expanding choices of where to pursue its interests.
One solution worth exploring is to participate directly in existing Web 2.0 communities that offer social networking functionality. Reaching out to unknown as well as known audiences can attract more people to comment, share, and interact with libraries. Taking collections to where people are already engaged in community conversations might also encourage visits to a library’s Web site where the full wealth of resources are available.