Category Archives: Work

The Mechanical Turkish Librarian?

There’s a bitter-sweet sensation that I’ve encountered periodically throughout my life when I discover that an idea I’ve had in the past for a product or service has become reality — but that someone else has made it a reality. I’m sure many other people have experienced this same feeling.

It happened again this week when I discovered the existence of a New York-based start-up called

These folks have created a service that leverages Amazon’s Mechanical Turk service (a “micro outsourcing” service which matches businesses that need “Human Intelligence Tasks” completed with a network of digital “piece workers”) to address a challenge that I’ve been involved with for many years — adding metadata to digital images to make them more discoverable.

It will be interesting to see what the quality of the tagging is like, since Tagasauris is using non-professional cataloguers, whereas I’ve always worked with qualified librarians that have a deep understanding of cataloguing rules, classification schemes and controlled vocabularies. Tagasauris claims to have a sophisticated quality assurance engine to maintain a high quality of tagging.

It will also be interesting to see if they can make the service financially sustainable once the start-up funding runs out, of course!

I will be keeping an eye on them to see if “my” idea turns out to be a good one.

Moving to New York

Well, it’s official and it’s public: I’m leaving my current job at RLG and the San Francisco Bay Area and moving to New York City, to take up a post with the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation as ArtSTOR’s Director of Metadata.

I’ll be driving across the country towards the end of next month, arriving in NYC on or before 25 September. I’m planning to live in Manhattan.

I have hugely mixed feelings about this move; I’m simultaneously thrilled at the prospect of an amazing new job in one of the world’s most exciting cities, and heartbroken to be leaving my life in the Bay Area. I’m certainly going to be pretty busy for the forseeable future though.