Thinking about How We Label Images

As an image cataloger I don’t often have the opportunity to write such long descriptions of art work as these, but I do assign many short or one-word labels to images. In response to the question below, I’m often the one who gets to decide. For example, many painting titles refer to rape scenes as abductions (or vice versa), yet both are listed in the Library of Congress Subject Authority. Either would probably help people find images, but the implications are quite different, in my opinion. Have any of you encountered this particular issue of labeling images? How do you approach it?

From the Jane Addams Hull House Museum:

Alternative Labeling Project

Was Mary Rozet Smith Jane Addams’s companion, lesbian lover, or life-long partner?  Why should we care?  What is at stake in how we describe their relationship? Who gets to decide?

Please take a few minutes to participate in our civic engagement and reflection project. Choose one of three labels that you think best describes the portrait of Mary Rozet Smith.

To comment, visit the Hull-House Response Board inside Jane Addams Hull-House museum or participate in our weblog HERE.

http://www.uic.edu/jaddams/hull/newdesign/labelingproject.html

One comment:

  1. Here is a related issue — one cataloger’s classification of gay and lesbian literature has big implications @ amazon.com:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/14/technology/internet/14amazon.html
    and
    “Amazon managers found that an employee who happened to work in France had filled out a field incorrectly and more than 50,000 items got flipped over to be flagged as “adult,” the source said. (Technically, the flag for adult content was flipped from ‘false’ to ‘true.’)”
    http://blog.seattlepi.com/amazon/archives/166384.asp

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