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Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Seeing Tibetan Art Through Social Tags
04 Jun 2008

Archives & Museum Informatics, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

"Mannion, S., Seeing Tibetan Art Through Social Tags, in J. Trant and D. Bearman (eds.). Museums and the Web 2008: Proceedings, Toronto: Archives & Museum Informatics. Published March 31, 2008.
Abstract: Most current efforts in social tagging by museums focus on how to improve public access to on-line collections. Indeed, tags do supplement existing documentation by providing an alternative vocabulary to describe works of art. But what can tags tell us about how images are perceived? Are the same images perceived differently by viewers from diverse cultures? Taking its cue from the Steve Project's ( research agenda, an ongoing study funded by the Rubin Museum of Art explores what tags reveal about the ways native communities respond to their own cultural iconography. Begun in March 2007, the study is collecting tags on Tibetan artworks from Tibetans and Westerners in Switzerland and New York on a customized steve installation (
Preliminary findings based on the Swiss data reveal: 1) different tagging and viewing patterns among Tibetans and Westerners; 2) complex and often awkward feelings young Tibetans experience when viewing traditional artworks; 3) clearly discernible levels of cultural pervasiveness of traditional images; and 4) shared misunderstandings about specific types of images. [...] Keywords: social tagging, tags, native communities, diaspora, Tibetan Buddhist art, perception, mixed methods."

Site contents:
* Abstract; * Museums and the Tibetan Community: A Reciprocal Relationship; * Seeing Tibetan Art Through Social Tags; * Mixed Methods Research Design; * Selected Artworks; * The Tagging Platform; * Data Collection in Native Communities; * Demographic Profile of Participants; * Preliminary Findings; * Tagging and Viewing Patterns; * Tagger Agreement; * Cultural Pervasiveness of Traditional Images; * Implications and Conclusions; * Acknowledgements; * References.
[In 2007 Shelley Mannion was a graduate student, TEC-CH program, University of Lugano, Switzerland. Steve Project, founded in 2005, is "a collaboration of museum professionals and others who believe that social tagging may provide profound new ways to describe and access museum collections and encourage visitor enagement with museum objects." - ed.].


Internet Archive ( [the site will be archived in the next few months].

Link reported by: Shelley Mannion (

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