3D vs 2D and the richness of folksonomies

In Brighton I briefly stumbled through an attempted explanation of something I think may be worth expanding on. The context was discussion of the relative values of curatorial and folksonomic terms, and what I wanted to get at was (a) terms for describing what you’re looking at may not be the same as you would use if searching for the same thing, in part because (b) what you describe when you’re looking at something varies according to how you see it: whether it’s in front of you, 3D and full size (or not), or on a screen in 2D (and most likely shrunk). The 2D/3D thing was explored in a presentation at MCN by Elise Lewis and I’ll snip my notes from the conference here (so please excuse the note-like nature):

Lewis (U
North Texas) – user interactions with 3D objects on the web

No common definition of “3D image”; lots of viewers, functionalities and needs. Lots of research in e.g. games and commerce but not in cultural heritage. Did a pilot study with savvy grad students. Their descriptions of 3D images from Arius* were mapped to hierarchical levels of perception:

  • colour
  • shape
  • texture
  • object – name, generic description
  • action
  • location – in this case used to describe the location on the object (view). In 2D, a geographical term
  • affect

Descriptions also on 2D versions of same item. More description on 3D, especially action, object, colour and location. Occasionally more terms used for texture in 2D that 3D but descriptions are much richer in 3D as more facets emerge. Need a survey to find out how and why these images are being used.

As such objects become more common metadata and controlled vocabulary issues (e.g. for location) will become more urgent. Will user generated content be helpful or not? There will be management issues too – MD, systems, retrieval.

* Arius is a company who work with Royal Ontario Museum, they’ve done some cool colour laser scanning stuff for them

Curators inevitably get to see stuff in 3D, and quite possibly bigger, too, so it follows from the above that quite aside from being more “academic”, their descriptions may also be much richer simply because of their interface with the item in meatspace. Which is not to say that they should always be present, let alone privileged above other terms used for an item.

Jeremy O

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