Tiltfactor awarded NEH

Tiltfactor has been awarded a new National Endowment for the Humanities grant.

Mary Flanagan, the Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Professor in Digital Humanities at Dartmouth College, in collaboration with Dartmouth College’s Archivist Peter Carini of the Rauner Special Collections Library, has received an National Endowment for the Humanities startup grant. The funding will be used to develop ” Metadata Games — An Open Source Electronic Game for Archival Data Systems,” a networked computer game to be played on the Internet. The game is designed to supplement library metadata on various holdings in archival collections, supplementing existing materials with new descriptions provided by visitors and the public.

Inspiration for the project emerged from thinking about archival materials and how games can be used as participatory media for public repositories of knowledge. Special collections, historical societies, and archives often lack the resources to process items such as videos and images down to the item level of detail. Not only can we use computer applications to facilitate the tagging of common metadata elements across large group of images, the secondary and tertiary elements for any resource need further human input. This by its nature is expensive and for nonprofit archives, generally prohibitory. Also, the technical knowledge and resources required make the simple addition of data tags for a collection difficult. Archives will benefit from accurate descriptions with resources that are also recorded via open formats.

Flanagan, working from theories behind social networks, computer games, and ‘folksonification,’ plans to address archival needs in the design of the gaming system. The ultimate goal is to assist such repositories with an open source software tool so that visitors to the archive become participants who collaboratively augment and improve the archival material through a game. This approach, called ‘crowdsourcing,’ offers a way to build on the power of play and groups from a distributed means. The system and its design will be directly applicable to other college, university, and public archives and can be used to augment tags for any type of material, be it a scanned image, a digitized film, a scanned illuminated manuscript, or other document.