Monday, January 3, 2011

Embedded Metadata News

Fresh from the Visual Resource Association's (VRA) email list is this post from Greg Reser, which he has given me permission to repost here. Anyone with a Flickr account should check it out.

Embedded Metadata News

Like all of you, I spent my Holiday break reading about metadata, especially embedded metadata.  One blog post I found was from a Flickr developer in response to a complaint the social media companies "own" and "lock-in" their user's content.  The developer responded by saying that Flickr allows full access to all of the content users upload and create, including Descriptions and Tags, .  This is good news because it means that all that work you did tagging your photos is not limited to your Flickr page, you can download it to your computer or share it with other social media sites.  You enter the data once and then reuse it over and over.

Unfortunately, this data access comes via the Flickr API, meaning you have to be a programmer to get at it.  The good news is that some developers have created free or low cost applications to backup your Flickr content.  Best of all, they all have the cute missing "e" in their name.  For those of you have been looking for a way to get your metadata out of Flickr, you might try one of these apps.  The only limit I have found is that these apps do not export any custom metadata that was originally uploaded to Flickr.  So, if used a custom tool like the VRA Photoshop panel to add VRA metadata, it won't be downloaded.  It is possible to do this, just not with these apps.

Flickr Edit (Windows) - FREE (upload/download photos and EXIF and IPTC metadata metadata)

Downloadr (Windows) - FREE (download photos and metadata EXIF and IPTC metadata)

Bulkr (Windows, Mac) - FREE for basic (download photos), $24.95 for pro (download photos and metadata EXIF and IPTC metadata.  Also exports .txt file of metadata!)

You can find lots of other useful Flickr apps on the Flickr App Garden -

Besides retrieving metadata for your own photos, this ability could also be put to use for collecting images and metadata from groups.  For instance, you could have faculty and students upload and tag their own photos in Flickr, say of field work they did documenting architecture, and then you could download them and parse out the metadata into your institutional database.

Greg Reser

Arts Library
University of California, San Diego