The Tropenmuseum has an extensive collection of historical photos from Indonesia. These photos are available online, but it is not easy to find specific ones. Tag the Picture is a digital platform developed to make the collection more searchable and thus accessible to all. We do this by working with volunteers who add descriptions (tags) to photos, training an algorithm that will eventually add descriptions automatically. Together we can bring the past into focus.
Join in and Tag the Picture
Everyone can join in and tag a picture. When you sign up on the platform, you can start tagging straight away. You will be shown photos from the collection that you provide with descriptions. You can add tags in two ways: you either describe the whole photo (for example, is it a portrait or a landscape?) or put elements in frames (for example, baskets, mountains, or cars). This information is added to the photos and used to train an algorithm. The algorithm (also called artificial intelligence or AI) learns from these tags and will eventually be able to add descriptions to photos on its own.
An Extraordinary Glimpse of the Past
Volunteering for Tag the Picture gives you special access to the photo collection. This collection contains approximately 500,000 photographs. Most of the photographs date from the period between 1850 and the present, including the time under Dutch rule. The photos illustrate how Indonesians, Indo-Europeans, and Europeans related to each other in colonial and postcolonial Indonesia. As a volunteer, you will be shown all kinds of different photos that you can add tags to. They will provide you with a unique insight into the past. In addition, you play an essential role in making this collection accessible. The more photos that are tagged, the better the algorithm is trained and will perform afterwards. At a later stage, volunteers will also be checking some of the algorithm’s tags so that we can be sure that the algorithm is working properly. Together we will bring the past into focus by creating a platform that makes the entire collection searchable and accessible for all.
As we speak, the Tropenmuseum’s photo collection from Indonesia is being uploaded to the platform. In future, the platform and algorithm can be used for other photos in our collections. Eventually, the open-source software can also be used by other institutions to make their collections searchable.
The platform language is currently Dutch. From spring 2023, Tag The Picture will also be available in English.
Tag the Picture is ontwikkeld in opdracht van Stichting Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen.
Dr M.J.H.F. (Melvin) Wevers – Universiteit van Amsterdam
Tag the Picture is mede tot stand gekomen dankzij de genereuze steun van: