I like to use a lot of images in my lectures. Over the years, though, figuring out ways to label and organize them has been frustrating. For the most part, I’ve saved images in the file folder of the course I’m teaching at the time. So, in Greek History, I have folders of images of Athens, temples, sculptures, vase paintings, etc. The problem is that, while many of these images could be used for other classes, they can be hard to find. File titles can only be so detailed, and folders are too inflexible. For example, this is a vase painting depicting the murder of Priam, the king of Troy, by Neoptolemos, the son of Achilles. Sprawled across the dying king’s lap is his grandson, Astyanax, the son of Hector.
Should it be filed under “Fall of Troy”, “Priam”, “red-figure vases”, or even “palm tree”? And should the image reside in a general image folder or in a course folder? Now I don’t have to choose.
A couple of applications allow Mac users to tag all of their documents, images, files, even emails and songs and search for them the same way you can tag and search bookmarks in delicious or files in zotero.
I’ve played around with both of them a little bit, and they look really promising. The interfaces are intuitive, tagging is fast (you can even do them in batches), and the search/retrieve windows have a preview pane.
That said, there are a few downers: 1) they cost $25-29 for a single user license (there are free demos available so you try it before taking the plunge), and 2) your tags will not sync via dropbox, since dropbox seems to have difficulty syncing metadata (someone correct me if I’m wrong). That last one’s almost a deal-breaker for me, but since I do most of my lecture prep on my laptop these days, I may still be worth it.
Windows users are more fortunate. Two free apps, Tagged Frog and Tag2Find, seem to provide the same functions but for free. (I would imagine, though, that the same issues with dropbox apply.) If you’re interested, click here for a comparison.