indico: to proclaim, make publicly known
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.
Since then, dozens of museums, public libraries, and other cultural heritage institutions from around the world have joined The Commons, releasing over 50, 000 images to be perused, tagged, and researched by the public.
Indicommons represents outreach from the Flickr community 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.
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.
Participating institutions benefit from greater exposure of its collections through Flickr’s high profile and its 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.
The Indicommons application provides a new way to access the wealth of historical imagery and information from around the world that is found in the Commons. No matter where you are, you can browse through the various institutions' collections, or search the Commons for items of interest. If you have a Flickr account, you can also help enrich the Commons by adding tags and comments to the various Commons items directly from the application.