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Wikimedia Commons Valued Images, curation and discovery


I’m fond of pointing out that discovery is perhaps the biggest challenge and opportunity faced by the cultural commons — however you want to define “commons” — public domain, Free, everything CC licensed, all of “Web 2.0”, or something else.

However you define it, the commons includes at least many thousands to many millions of cultural works in every obvious medium — too much for any individual to make sense of. So it’s always exciting to see major hubs develop and refine methods for curating and exposing the best of the commons.

In this vein Wikimedia Commons just rolled out a procedure for highlighting Most Valued Images. Wikimedia Commons already does a great job of highlighting quality images (see our post on their pictures of the year), but the usefulness of an image in the context of a digital encyclopedia is different than an image’s overall quality:

The quality images project aims to identify and encourage users who provide images of high technical quality to Commons. Featured pictures are the cream of the crop at Commons and is reserved for images of both extraordinary value and technical quality.

Valued images, on the other hand, are those that are the most valuable of their kind for use in an online context, within other Wikimedia projects. The technical requirements for valued images are typically much lower, as there is no concern about suitability for print usage. A built-in camera in a modern mobile phone should be sufficient if the subject is of high value and the photo illustrates it well at a viewing size of 480×360 pixels or equivalent. Valued images are less about technical quality and more about your ingenuity in finding good and valuable subjects which matter, and about the usability of the information on the image page.

It’s easy to see the usefulness of similar breakdowns in other projects. For example, on a music remix site such as ccMixter, the best fully mixed tracks are most enjoyable to listen to, but the best a cappellas and samples are probably the most valuable content in the sense that the former build upon and require the latter.

So this is a challenge to think about and implement improved curation and discovery in multiple dimensions throughout the commons.

Posted 02 June 2008