On Tuesday 22 February Net Tuesday invited Archive+ along to their regular session at MadLab. Alan Holding of the Manchester Digital Development Agency kicked things off with an introduction to Flickr and the things it can do, from uploading, describing and tagging an image to making sets and interacting with other users.

David Govier of Manchester Archives then talked about the Archives+ team’s social media adventure. Starting from zero in November, Archives+ now has 800 Twitter followers. Archives+ uses Twitter to publicise its 2,000 images on Flickr – these have now received a total of 150,000 hits. The project has helped the archives reach new audiences, collect memories and make many new connections across the city and beyond.

Net Tuesday, Madlab, 22 Feb 2011
Net Tuesday, Madlab, 22 Feb 2011

Dave Mee of MadLab was up next. He has been working with Archives+ on refining geo-tag metadata and investigating new ways of providing access to the Manchester Local Image Collection – a collection of over 80,000 photographs of streets and building in Manchester from the nineteenth century onwards. Using Google Refine, Google Fusion Tables and Google Maps, Dave talked delegates through the beginnings of what we can’t help calling the Manchester Time Machine. More on this soon!

The last speaker was Julian Tait of Open Data Manchester, who talked about the benefits of open data for citizens and local authorities and about the launch of the DataGM website on Monday.

The fascinating discussion which followed ranged from debate on what it means for archives to be available online, what is an archive in the first place, image licensing issues, and the politics and economics of opening up datasets. Questions included:

“What’s the point of all this Flickring if you don’t put a creative commons license on your images? Surely this material is owned by the people, not by the library and archives. The process for getting a reproduction license is too cumbersome.”

“Doesn’t this endanger the authenticity of the knowledge surrounding your archives?”

“Can we put this dataset onto the DataGM website?”

“Can we refine this geo-tagging data using crowdsourcing techniques, either via an online interface or via smartphone EXIF technology?”