Powerhouse Museum Electronic Fabric Swatch Book is a really cool project and an example of using a folksonomy as a way to address the reality that Museums often use subject categorizations that don't reflect the terms most people use when searching online. According to the Museum's Web Manager, Sebastion Chan:
"The swatchbook has a lot of high resolution public domain (in Aust) fabric swatches available for download. Unfortunately, as they come from a series of physical fabric swatchbooks they have been catalogued by the Museum as three separate books. Each book contains numerous swatches, all of which are unlabelled.
We have, since the launch, been inviting users to describe the swatches. As these descriptions are added by users of the site they go into a database as search terms alongside the particular swatch record. Once we have a critical mass of descriptors then we will turn on searching which will enable searching by colour and pattern etc."
I'm fighting the temptation to want to create a digital bloggers quilt .... grab a fabric patch, write a post, and stitch it together with a technorati tag like "digital.quilt"
This project is one of several where museums experimenting with folksonomies. The Art Museum Community Cataloging Project is another experiment of how social tagging of art may make it more accessible to the general public. The project uses a tool named, STEVE, an open-source tool for enabling social tagging of museum object images to create folksonomies.
The project description:
Popular Internet applications that take advantage of social tagging – think flickr and del.icio.us – have captured our collective imagination over the past year. Museums could learn from these developments, and use folksonomic classification both to improve access to on-line collections and to provide the foundation for community-based services that reinforce the role of the museum.