My students hate how hard I hammer them on captions. Aside from the need for, you know, grammar and punctuation, I also make them write in – heaven forbid! – AP style. You’d think I was making them writing in cuneiform on clay tablets or something.
But it gets worse – I make them get names. And contact info. I’m not sure why journalism students are afraid of people, this just seems like the wrong line of work if you’re shy.
Those captions, though, they are critical to the journalistic, historic and financial success of their work. If they can’t write a decent caption, it won’t get published. If they can’t write a decent caption, no one late on will know what the photo is of. And, if they can’t write a decent caption so editors can find their images, they can’t get paid.
Hard to make a living when you produce great visuals that no one ever sees. (I really want to make a comment in here about if a JPG gets lost in a forest without a caption, does it really exist … but it’s not quite there yet.)
Writing at A Computer Scientist in Business School, Panos Ipeirotis tells the tale of how Tagasauris has started to help Magnum Photos deal with their massive, un-tagged archive of images. It’s a good read, both because it shows the need for getting tagging right at the time of ingestion and how technology can be used to build semantic links between groups of images.
(Thanks to David Noah, indirectly, for the link.)