Metadata Games for visual and performing arts

I recently found out about the open-source software Metadata Games and decided to give it a whirl. Note: Detailing Dance is a test. Feedback welcome.


The Information Interchange Theory (Marcella & Baxter)1 has been on my mind recently, as it relates to digital resources. There is a relationship between the information provider and information user that Marcella & Baxter argue hold an inherent dichotomy, where the libraries and archives, as information providers, may generalize who the user is when working towards a baseline understanding of the public sphere. Conversely, the user acts in a variety of ways depending on his or her level of informedness prior to interacting with a digital collection, or other online information resources. Even if feedback is gathered, how do individual user experiences and their end goals affect how libraries and archives implement digital content in the future? And not only how, what are some real-life examples?

Interface design and usability are important aspects of connecting with digitally available content. However, in addition to interface design, libraries and archives can borrow from the idea that task performance has an impact on a user’s motivation to interact with online content.2 Online interactions that involve a goal and a presence of rewards affect motivation. I believe that the development of Metadata Games focuses on a subset of users that may be characterized as casual gamers. Mary Flanagan and Peter Carini created an open-source game set that sets the user to a task where they are commended on their collaboration and intellectual contributions with a point system. Like FourSquare badges, this can give users a sense of belonging to a niche group in an online community. Although Flanagan and Carini cite crowdsourcing research as one of their inspirations, Metadata Games would be an interesting topic for continued research relating to the motivational factors for interface design (Watters & Duffy).

My interest in installing Metadata Games is to observe the behavior and characteristics of an even smaller community. Because the test image collection subject matter is photography of dancers, I believe that the primary audience for interactivity will be individuals connected with the photographer first-hand. Other secondary audiences would be friends of these individuals, with the user group growing mostly by social online connections. Currently, I’m still setting up the system and considering edits to the interface and language. I also believe that users expect an aspect of learning online, so providing known metadata or sharing submitted tags at some point during the user’s experience would engage them further. I also wonder about the complete overlap of gaming, education, and learning resources from libraries and archives as in the Center for Game Science at the University of Washington, except with visual art and performing arts collections.

Marcella, R., & Baxter, G. (2005). Information interchange theory. In K.E. Fisher, S. Erdelez & L. McKechnie (Eds.), Theories of information behavior. Medford, NJ: Information Today, 204-209.

Watters, C., & Duffy, J. (2005). Motivational factors for interface design. In K.E. Fisher, S. Erdelez & L. McKechnie (Eds.), Theories of information behavior. Medford, NJ: Information Today, 242-246.


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