Lurking around on Flickr made me feel like a voyeur – like I was intruding into people’s lives by looking at their personal photographs. To escape this feeling, I chose to explore the collections of institutions, particularly focusing on the photographs on the Library of Congress page. As a frequent user of the Library of Congress prints and photographs collection website, I was curious to see what images they selected for their Flickr page. They have a nice variety of photos broken up into 16 sets, including photos from the FSA, Civil War photos, color photos from the 1930s and 1940s, and interestingly, photos in which the photographer is pictured. The Flickr page offers an excellent alternative to searching the Library of Congress’ own page for the general public. Not only does it provide the same information as is available on the LOC’s page, it also offers the option to comment. In the Zinkham / Springer article, “Taking Photographs to the People: The Flickr Commons Project and the Library of Congress,” the authors explain that the comment function on Flickr has enabled the Library to learn additional information on some of the photographs, as well as to engage the public in a dialog about the past. Certainly the value of user-generated information is debatable, but at least this gives the Library the opportunity to solicit information from a much larger audience than just those who research at the physical site. Overall, I think the Library of Congress’ Flickr endeavor is one of the better examples of ways that historians can use new media.
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