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Rethinking Evaluation Metrics in Light of Flickr Commons: The Smithsonian Institution


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This presentation examined how several institutions on Flickr Commons – the Library of Congress, the Powerhouse Museum, the Smithsonian, New York Public Library, and Cornell University Library – are navigating the concept of evaluation in an emerging arena where compelling statistics are often qualitative, difficult to gather, and ever-changing. The joint presentation looked at how these different institutions managed metrics and evaluation in highly collaborative Web spaces.

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Rethinking Evaluation Metrics in Light of Flickr Commons: The Smithsonian Institution

  1. 1. The Flickr Commons:  The Flickr Commons: Smithsonian InstitutionEffie Kapsalis, Smithsonian Institution Archives@digitaleffie
  2. 2. 12 Divisions• American Art Museum • American Indian Museum American Indian Museum• Anacostia Community Museum• Archives of American Art• Archives of American Gardens• Astrophysical Observatory• Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage• National Museum of Natural History,     Division of Fishes• National Postal Museum• Smithsonian Institution Archives Smithsonian Institution Archives• Smithsonian Institution Libraries• National Portrait Gallery
  3. 3. What we track on Flickr1 QuantitativeNumber of views, changes in comments and ‘favorites,’ and notes about  significant referrers/spikes in traffic and potential causes.significant referrers/spikes in traffic and potential causes2 QualitativeCase studies on how images Case studies on how imagesare used (blogs, craft projects, Wikipedia) and other qualitative results (donations, research, Wikipedia). Collect research Wikipedia) Collectcomments and tags for archiving purposes.3 Press MentionsSignificant press/blog coverage (Google Newsreader)
  4. 4. Quantitative Highlights2200 + photographs,  p g pprints and graphics+ 4.75 million views  since + 4 75 million views sinceJune 2008 (~160K/month)55%  images commented87% images  favorited87% images ‘favorited’99% images viewed g
  5. 5. Quantitative results:Smithsonian Libraries Portraits of ScientistsAfter 3 months on Flickr,  received nearly as many visits as received nearly as many visits asduring the previous 5 years on Smithsonian Libraries website. 
  6. 6. Case Study: Photo Discovery on Flickr Leads Discovery on Flickr Leadsto Significant DonationSeptember 2008 :  pUploaded previously unpublished photos documenting the Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes Trial *July 2009: Henrietta Silverman Jenrette contacted  the Smithsonian  after seeing photographs on Flickr, offering a donation of 10 photos of the  , g ptrial from her father who attended with his  high school biology teacher. “I appreciate the way the photos I appreciate the way the photos the Smithsonian has are available online for all to see.”‐ Henrietta Silverman Jenrette* 
  7. 7. Case Study: Improving Collection DataMost of Smithsonian Archives photos have collection‐level finding aids and no descriptions at item‐level. Experimented posting 8 unidentified photographs from the Science Service morgue file and asked public for help in  fil d k d bli f h l iMarch 2009 . 4 of 8 identified. 
  8. 8. “To see this story go from an image with initials to a full biography with with initials to a full biography withimages and living memories, through crowd‐sourcing, is wonderful, one of the very coolest parts of the whole Flickr Commons project for me,”Flickr volunteer, Penny Richards.
  9. 9. Other ResultsIncreased Traffic to Smithsonian Archives Websites & Use of ResourcesI d T ffi t S ith i A hi W b it & U fR• is the blog’s #13 referring site• Visitors have low bounce rate, view more pages on the blog, and spend more time than the  average visitor on the main website as well.• The Flickr Commons  accounts for 23% of  the Smithsonian Archive’s overall press.• The Flickr Commons Women in Science set has successfully increased traffic to and use of  the Science Service Finding Aid (Single Digits to 78 views/month) New Audiences • Ichthyologist s on Fish Specimen  Groupp • Research scholar affiliated with  UCLA’s Center for the Study of  Women • Wikimedia/Wikipedia users  / p
  10. 10. Effie KapsalisSmithsonian Institution ArchivesSmithsonian Institution Archives@digitaleffie