Flickr Commons: High Resolution and what does it tell us?

We join The Commons on Flickr today and do so in a manner we hope will start an interesting discussion. Our Principal Librarian, Deirdre Lawrence, has posted about the collections we’ve uploaded and I’m going to write a little about the techie details.

Flickr is a fantastic community. For the last two years, we’ve been uploading photographs (mostly behind-the-scenes of various installations) on the Museum’s Flickr feed. Our experience on Flickr has been a great one where we’ve had a lot of fun and learned a lot from this community who speak their minds without hesitation. When The Commons came along, we jumped at the chance to be part of it because The Commons allows us the ability to upload works from our Archival collections and we hope by doing so, it will create an additional dialogue.


To begin our partnership with The Commons, two sets of images have been uploaded—a selection of images from the Paris Exposition of 1900 (part of our Goodyear Archival Collection) and a selection of images of Egypt from our collection of lantern slides. The Paris images are uploaded at a standard 1200 pixel wide medium resolution, but for the Egyptian images we wanted to offer something more in the spirit of “The Commons”—the Egyptian set has been uploaded at the highest resolution we could provide based on the original scans. This means you can go to “all sizes” and see these images near 3000 pixels on the longest side. While we can’t offer images at this quality all the time—the small amount of revenue we generate from reproduction offsets the costs of caring for the collection—we did want to see what it teaches us about the needs of the people looking. This is “The Commons” after all, so let’s take this opportunity to talk about the issues. Is high resolution really more useful? Is the sampling of these materials of interest in this arena? How are you using our images? What images of yours relate to our collection images?

So, drop us a line (comment here or at Flickr or email) and let us know what you think. If you have a “now” image to our “then”, use the HTML code Flickr provides to post that image response into the comments area. What’s next into The Commons for us? No clue. We are curious to hear from you about the materials we’ve uploaded and will let that be our guide as we consider what to upload next.

Final note: Deb, Angie, Steeev thanks for making this upload and captioning process easy on me :)