Steve is a collaboration of museum professionals and others who believe that social tagging may provide profound new ways to describe and access cultural heritage collections and encourage visitor engagement with collection objects. Our activities include researching social tagging and museum collections; developing open source software tools for tagging collections and managing tags; and engaging in discussion and outreach with members of the community who are interested in implementing social tagging for their own collections.
Steve as Research
The project team is engaged in systematic research into how social tagging can best serve the museum community and its visitors. Our current research project, “T3: Text, Tags, Trust,” a partnership with the University of Maryland’s School, is funded, in part, by a National Leadership Grant for Research from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services. Results of a recently-completed IMLS research project, “Researching Social Tagging and Folksonomy in the Art Museum,” are presented in the Research section of this website. Data collected at http://tagger.steve.museum provides a testbed for researching our hypotheses about social tagging.
Steve as Software
To support our research, the steve team has developed a suite of open source tagging tools. The current version of the steve tagger tool is available at the project’s SourceForge site, and members of the community are encouraged to download and install the tool. At its core, the tagger is a php web application that can publish a basic online collection and record tags. The project has issued a rich API that allows the integration of the tagger tool with existing tools and supports new development efforts. By itself, tagging is not technically difficult, but it is our intention to provide a easily-deployed common platform to allow users to share the costs of future tool development.
Steve in Action
The steve tagger has been implemented in a number of places in a variety of ways. The “Steve in Action” section of the site describes our 2008 National Leadership Grant for Advancing Digital Resources from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services. The goal of this ongoing project is to enhance the functionality of the steve software tools, to encourage the use of social tagging methods in museums of all sizes and types, to develop innovative, “next-generation” tagging interfaces, and to explore cross-collection searching and browsing via the aggregation of tags. The section also showcases some individual deployments of the steve tagger software, and provides links and case studies.
The site’s FAQs answer your questions about who we are, how to contact us, and how you can participate in our work.