A Project Called Steve

Steve” is a collaborative research project exploring the potential for user-generated descriptions of the subjects of works of art to improve access to museum collections and encourage engagement with cultural content.

Steve asks you to tag works of art, hoping to develop from this folksonomy ways of making art and artifacts more accessible generally. Now this is a far bit from legal research, but it intrigues me because it invites mass tagging into a specialist’s area. A long time back, when tagging was newish, a number of us posted about it, doubting it’s applicability in law, where a classically hierarchical taxonomy has always ruled the day; but I thought then and still think that it might be interesting to see what would happen if users of legal material and other interested citizens tagged it.

As for the site itself, I find the Flash distracting and disappointing: there’s a lovely-seeming tag cloud that floats and rotates but on my browser at least does nothing useful at all when you click on a word.

And notice that this site uses the .museum top-level domain, the first such case I’ve noticed. Let’s lobby for a .lexpert or simply .law; why should fusty old museums have all the fun. And yes I know there’s a .pro domain, but heck, doctors and accountants and all sorts of people get to use it too.


  1. Jurist perhaps.

    But as for lexpert – let’s not get started on that.

  2. Please come back, and try out the steve tagger at http://tagger.steve.museum

    We’re conducting an experiment that examines the relationship between specialist (art historical) vocabulary and perspective and that of the general museum-goer or art-lover. Our early studies revealed a signfiicant ‘semantic gap’ between the terms and concepts of curators and those of non-specialists, and we’re hopeful that tagging might be a way to make art museum collections more accessible.

    We need you to tag some art!

    More background at http://www.steve.museum/ under “Reference”