About The Commons

The Commons was launched on January 16, 2008, by Flickr with the release of nearly 3,000 photographs from two popular Library of Congress collections. The stated aims of the Commons project are to increase the public’s access to publicly held photography collections in civic institutions around the world and to provide a way for the public to contribute historical data pertaining to the collections.

More than a dozen museums, public libraries, and other cultural heritage institutions from around the world have joined The Commons, releasing over 12,000 images to be perused, tagged, and researched by the public.

About the Flickr Commons Group

The Flickr group Flickr Commons was created by Anna Graf in December 2008 to celebrate The Commons with other Commons fans and to increase awareness of and participation in The Commons within Flickr.

Flickr members and Commons member institution staff use the Flickr Commons group to discuss and learn more about The Commons, to demonstrate ways they have been using The Commons, and to imagine future possibilities for the project.

About Indicommons

The Indicommons blog represents outreach from the Flickr Commons group beyond Flickr, to broaden knowledge of The Commons among the public and civic institutions around the world and to increase participation by the public in the Commons.

The name, Indicommons (pronounced “in de commons”) derives from the Latin indico, to make publicly known, and commons, the old English word chosen by Flickr for its Commons project, meaning the land held in common by the people of a town.

Indicommons writers are inspired by The Commons and by interactions in the Flickr Commons group, and welcome related news and ideas from outside the Flickr and Commons communities.

Why Is The Commons Important?

Why is The Commons important to the public?

The Commons represents our shared visual heritage. Our culture is enriched by the release of these historical photographs and further enriched by the public’s participation in the collection and aggregation of related historical information.

The Commons also expands creative freedom and enriches culture by pushing cultural media outside of the confines and limitation of physical media and by making this media available with, as is stated on each Commons photo page, “no known copyright restrictions.” The results of this expansion include remixes and mashups of Commons collections.

Why is The Commons important to institutions and archivists?

Participating institutions benefit from greater exposure of its collections through Flickr’s high profile and it’s large user base. The Commons also allows participating institutions to harness the limitless power of the crowd to mine otherwise inaccessible data. Photographs from different collections can be linked together, newly indexed, by the public, through Flickr’s folksonomic tagging, providing valuable metadata and increasing the utility of search results without committing scarce institutional human or overhead resources or reducing institutional integrity in collections data.

Why is The Commons important to educators?

The Commons provides educators and their students a wealth of historical imagery and information from around the world. It also allows educators and their students to participate in the historical research and tagging.