Blog #3: Social Tagging and Shared Authority

As I sit here, snowed in, in New England, I began to explore the citizen archive project on the National Archives website. The project can be greatly justified in its purpose and be extremely helpful to the public. I took part in a few of the tagging tasks dealing with World War Two posters. At first I had been unsure of the task set forth in front of me. I had some apprehension of participating in the project. My mind kept thinking, “What if I don’t know what to tag?,””What if I over tag?”.

Instead of starting of tagging I decided to see what had been done. I looked at the posters and noticed that the tags already added were vague and direct, which was good for simplicity but not for someone who is participates in specified researching. Historians rely on the web for a lot of their research and a database like the World War Two posters is an extremely important resource, the tags would be more helpful if they were more specific. Most of the tags that had already been placed on the posters had been simple like: Solider, World War II, propaganda, etc.

Yet, these tasks put forth by the National Archives are a great way to bring in the public. The different tasks of tagging and transcribing documents allows for public involvement that would not be possible without the internet. The missions that the Citizen Archive asks the site visitor to participate in are simple in practice and in thought. Anyone can participate in the Citizen Archive as long as they have a simple understanding of how to work the program and have some historical context to place on the analyzed texts.

The archive experiment offers an amazing spotlight into the question of shared authority. The indirect conversation that is established through the act of tagging and correcting transcriptions allows for an interaction between the historian and the public, but it is a limited conversation. The fact that the conversation is there and the interaction between the historian and the public dealing in a digital and archive fashion is an excellent occurrence. Many people do not have the opportunity to visit or access an archive but a site like the Citizen Archive Project allows for that chance.

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