Tag the Picture platform makes 500,000 photos accessible to all
On Thursday, 24 November 2022, the Amsterdam Tropenmuseum will launch the Tag the Picture digital platform: a unique tool for making the extensive Indonesian photo collection more searchable and accessible to all with the help of volunteers.
Thanks to volunteers, 500,000 photos will soon be provided with the correct descriptions. A specially developed algorithm will be set to work on their input, be trained by it, and automatically link the information entered to the photos. What would otherwise take years can soon be done many times faster through this algorithm.
Unlocking the Indonesia Collection
The photographs from Indonesia are part of the collections of the Tropenmuseum and Museum Volkenkunde, both part of the National Museum of World Cultures. Another 50,000 photos from Museum Bronbeek will also be uploaded to the platform. Most of the photographs date from the period between 1850 and the present, including the time under Dutch rule. Some of the photos have already been uploaded, but at the moment, it is not easy to do a targeted search because most image files lack descriptions and keywords. The Tropenmuseum aims to make these photographs accessible to anyone, anywhere in the world. And today, that is especially relevant.
‘We see an increasing need for photographic material made during Dutch rule in Indonesia. For research purposes but also out of personal interest. The photo collection gives glimpses of how the Dutch, the Indonesians, and the other ethnic groups lived there during that period, their relationships, and how the landscape looked and changed. This makes the collection an important resource for a lot of people.’ - Cindy Zalm, Head of Realisation National Museum of World Cultures.
Training the algorithm
The Tag The Picture platform is used to train an algorithm. This is done with the help of volunteers who provide groups of photos with keywords, also known as tags. The algorithm will soon be able to classify historical photographs as landscapes or portraits, for example, and recognise the different subjects depicted in photographs, such as people, animals, vehicles, or utensils. The more the algorithm is trained, the better it works.
Every photo is shown to at least two volunteers. Should they disagree, a third volunteer is asked to assign tags. Once the algorithm is properly trained, it will be able to attach tags by itself. At that stage, the platform will be used to check the algorithm.
Tag the Picture is an open-source platform developed in collaboration with Dr Melvin Wevers (Assistant Professor of Urban History and Digital Methods at the University of Amsterdam), Daily Creations, and Zooma. The platform language is currently Dutch. However, from spring 2023, Tag The Picture will also be available in English. Eventually, the Tropenmuseum plans to use the platform to annotate other photo collections.
This project was made possible with the support of the VriendenLoterij, Mondriaan Fonds, Amsterdam Fonds voor de kunsten,Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds, and GO FONDS.
End of press release
Note to the editors, not for publication:
The press is invited to attend Tag The Picture’s online launch event. Please register through this link. Webinar Registration - Zoom