Personal Response to Digital Frontiers Roundtable: Ann Howington Page: 2
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In the Social Media roundtable discussion of the Digital Frontiers conference, Virginia
Commonwealth University curator Jennie Fleming spoke about a type of social media called
crowdsourcing, where "registered" internet users work with digital collections to improve the
output in a sub-curatorial role. Cultural institutions are using new media to engage visitors to
respond and improve collections by providing contexts and information about certain items.
Participants doing this type of curating belong to a community of practice, a group of people who
share a concern or a passion for something they do (Wenger, web). A shared, environmental - or
spatial - belonging is "negotiated through practice and performance" (Mee and Wright, 772)
among those working in the Flickr environment; though in a virtual rather than a physical space.
The speaker discussed the 2012 "Library of Congress Flickr Co-curation Project," calling
for Flickr super users to curate a new set of pictures in the Library of Congress Flickr account
(Library of Congress, web). They were to group meaningful images together and add annotations.
Library of Congress (LOC) hoped this would add value to their digital image collections within the
Jennie questioned the lack of success and low participation of the project. She suggested
that the super users of Flickr Commons did not participate in the project because LOC reduced
them to the class of "visitors" by telling them how to participate, thus stifling their creativity. If
Fleming is correct in her evaluation of the Flickr super users' resistance, we can extend this
experience into the type of spatial belonging described by David Morley, "those within a bounded
sphere can come to feel threatened by the presence of that which they deem to be foreign." LOC, to
the super users, was the "...outsider who comes from elsewhere and threatens the stability of their
domestic scene" (Morley, 438).
Fleming, Jennie. "Examining Flickr's The Commons: What does creative interaction with digital
image archives mean for users and institutions?" Presentation at the Digital Frontiers
Conference at the University of North Texas, September 21, 2012.
Library of Congress. "Help us develop a new set of pictures!" Accessed September 24, 2012.
Mee, Kathleen, and Sarah Wright. "Guest Editorial, Geographies of Belonging, Why
Geography? Why Belonging?" Environment and Planning A, no. 41 (2009): 772.
Morley, David. "Belongings: place, space, and identity in a mediated world." European Journal
of Cultural Studies 4, no. 4 (2001): 438.
Wenger, Etienne. "Communities of Practice." Communities of Practice. Accessed September 24,
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Howington, Ann. Personal Response to Digital Frontiers Roundtable: Ann Howington, paper, September 21, 2012; (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc109706/m1/2/: accessed June 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT College of Visual Arts + Design.