Instagrammers as Information Community

SP16: INFO-200 Sec 10 – Inf. Comm – Blog Post #2


In 1945, Vannevar Bush describes an advanced form of photography and note taking:

One can now picture a future investigator in his laboratory. His hands are free, and he is not anchored. As he moves about and observes, he photographs and comments. Time is automatically recorded to tie the two records together. If he goes into the field, he may be connected by radio to his recorder. As he ponders over his notes in the evening, he again talks his comments into the record. His typed record, as well as his photographs, may both be in miniature, so that he projects them for examination. (Section 3, para. 29)

In As We May Think, Bush not only describes digital photography, he calls it “dry photography”, as a natural progression of technology but also the way in which people interact with photography. He imagines an investigator  records his observations with image and sound with the ability to immediately review these notes. That sounds awfully close to how we use our phones today to take pictures and videos to record and experience our daily lives with the addition of publishing and easy sharing.

This kind of daily photography and online interaction is common today. I am interested in the information community of  Instagram users or “Instagrammers”, participants in one of the many ways people share information online today. Instagram is an online mobile photo sharing app that allows users to share photos and short videos. Similar to other social media sites, members of the Instagram community can interact with each other by commenting, liking, and sharing other people’s posts.

Hashtags (a user created vocabulary of keywords) form another important feature of this community, by linking like minded images, topics, and users together. There are large scale groups unified by hashtags like the Weekend Hashtag Project and more idiosyncratic and individualized tags. Hashtags are often used to link together participants in an event in real time or a movement that happens asynchronously.

Using Durrance and Fisher’s definition of Information Communities (2003), this group could be defined as a “online community network” (p. 2). Instagram provides a place for people to give and receive information. Outside of the app there are blogs and other related information sharing sites around the interests of app users, whether its a subject interest or people seeking information to improve their photography.  Instagrammers and their subgroups are a narrow focus within the broader community of photo sharing sites and social media.

Durrance and Fisher also state five characteristics that information communities share (pp. 3-5) and Instagrammers certainly can be described in these terms. The information seeking and sharing primarily happens online, taking advantage of technology for the purpose of information sharing. Users visit the app to upload, view, and interact with photos. Users also interact with external sources such as blogs or in person meetups brought together through their participation in the Instagram community. According to Pew Research Center, the Instagram user demographics skew towards a younger crowd though they span an otherwise diverse group of people, (p. 13) who then interact and collaborate via the photo app. Topics can include photojournalism, art, hobbies, fashion & lifestyle, travel, political action, family life and much more. Hashtags on photos are used to share specific events or activities, as a way of meeting people’s needs seeking information through the app. Instagrammers share back channel information (updates, directions, translations, and visual guides) that allows other to participate, digitally and in person, that might have barriers otherwise. Instagrammers create distinct socially connected communities among users that are part of larger community.

I look forward to exploring the information seeking behaviors of this information community. I hope this will inform my work as an information professional because as online image sharing becomes more ubiquitous, metadata and image management are even more vital to organizing information.

Good morning 2016! #happynewyear #losangeles #griffithpark

A photo posted by Krystal Boehlert (@kboehlert) on

Reference List:

Bush, V. (1945). As we may think. The Atlantic Monthly. Retrieved from

Duggan, M. (2013). Photo and video sharing grow online. (Pew Internet & American Life Project). Retrieved from Pew Research Center website:

Fisher, K., & Durrance, J. (2003). Information communities. In K. Christensen, & D. Levinson (Eds.), Encyclopedia of community: From the village to the virtual world. (pp. 658-661). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc. Retrieved from


Wikipedia: Wikiproject Women Wikipedia Design

H.G. Wells predicted a “Permanent World Encyclopedia” in 1937:

As the core of such an institution would be a world synthesis of bibliography and documentation with the indexed archives of the world. A great number of workers would be engaged perpetually in perfecting this index of human knowledge and keeping it up to date.

It’s amazing to think about how this parallels the evolution of Wikipedia as a source of bibliographic records and summaries, created and maintained by the masses. However democratic and egalitarian this may sound, women editors are grossly underrepresented.

Wikipedia editors are predominantly male EN

via WIkipedian: Goran tek-en

Not only are women Wikipedians missing from the picture, but women architects/designers/artists are underrepresented as well. Today a Wikipedia #wikiD edit-a-thon took place at the Kappe SCI-Arc Library. Nina Briggs, archivist for AWA+D, and Becka Cooling, librarian at SCI-Arc, led a workshop in editing Wikipedia and why its important to participate in the formation of the internet encyclopedia. #WikiD is a worldwide project to enhance the representation for women architects and today’s efforts also fall under the project Art + Feminism who host another series of edit-a-thons to train people in editing Wikipedia.

There are three main learning curves to keep in mind when attending or facilitating a workshop in Wikipedia. First: there are Wikipedia rules, protocols, etiquette, and culture. Secondly: there is the basics of research, neutral writing, and proper citations. Then there is the technical component of navigating the site, working within the HTML editor and finding help files when style or format questions arise. All participants come with varying backgrounds and skill sets. These workshops allow for collaboration between members, a physical manifestation of Wikipedia itself.

I had a great time exploring the guidelines and editing tutorials and added a couple images to a recent #wikiD article on Rebecca L. Binder. Specifically I added the first three images of buildings that are accredited to her. You are allowed to use a copyrighted photo under the premise of fair use, though it is preferable to use public domain or Creative Commons licensed images. All three images I added today were found in Wikimedia Commons. The attribution was already determined and it was easy to embed these images into the article after they were sourced.

In Despina Stratigakos, ‘Unforgetting Women Architects’, Sue Gardner of Wikimedia says:

Wikipedia will only contain ‘the sum of all human knowledge’ if its editors are as diverse as the population itself: you can help make that happen. And I can’t think of anything more important to do, than that.


Upcoming: The next #wikiD events in Los Angeles will be March 5 and April 30. Join us!

2016 Art+Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon

March 5, 2016 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm
SCI-Arc Kappe Library, 2nd Floor/North End
960 East 3rd Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013

Women in Architecture #wikiD Writing Workshop

April 30, 2016 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Woodbury Library
7500 N Glenoaks Blvd, Burbank, CA 91504

Adventures with VRA: Riverside

VRA SC group photo

VRA-Southern California Chapter at UC Riverside: Greg Reser, Jennifer Faist-Hill, Krystal Boehlert, Sonja Sekely-Rowland, Maureen Burns, Brenda Lozano

Yesterday was the winter meeting with the Southern California chapter of the Visual Resources Association. We first met for breakfast and coffee hosted by Sonja Sekely-Rowland, Visual Resources Curator at UC Riverside. Sonja shared with us some of the challenges of entering a new position as big changes in the structure of the department and the institution happen. She needed to repurpose many of the traditional services of a Visual Resources Curator and upgrade legacy software systems. Resource allocation affects everyone in different ways.

After catching up with everyone, handling VRA business, and hearing a little bit about Sonja’s work at UCR, we headed over to The Barn to eat lunch on campus. Walking to lunch I noticed various fruit trees that were ripe for the picking scattered around campus. Sonja shared with us that UCR is home to the California Citrus Experiment Station, built in 1907 for citrus agricultural research. Today the Citrus Variety Collection hosts two trees of over 1000 citrus types.


Relaxation Chamber at the Entomology Museum, UCR

After lunch we went to talk to Doug Yanega in the Entomology Museum. Doug showed us how the cases of insects are organized and we discussed familiar issues in physical organization of materials as well as database management and integrity. Doug has several species of insects named after him. He is a part of the International Commission for Zoological Nomenclature, which means he gets to name any new species he discovers! A large portion of the museum’s collection comes from Philip Hunter Timberlake who was hired by the Citrus Experiment Station in the 20s for his knowledge on parasitic beetles (ladybugs) for biological pest control. We saw parts of his bee collection while we were there. My favorite part of the tour was the Relaxation Chamber which sounds oh so nice! It’s actually a container of water and carbolic acid to reconstitute dehydrated insects for articulation and dissection.

Next, we got a preview of the exhibitions that are opening to the public today at the California Museum of Photography by curator Katherine Pointdexter. CMP is also connected to UCR and is part of the UCR ARTSblock in downtown Riverside. We saw abstract work by Marie Bovo, Myth and Majesty Photographs Picturing the American Southwest, and a contemporary work made in the past year by David Weldzius.  Our tour also included highlights from the permanent collection that gives a light overview of the history of photography. On the top floor there is a camera obscura and the first floor has a zoetrope on display.

Leigh Gleason, the Curator of Collections showed us the Keystone Mast Collection of stereograph prints, and negatives by the Keystone View Company. This was especially exciting given my recent obsession with stereographs and explorations in new forms of stereographic viewing. She also manages a research library and curated the exhibition Recollection: Contemporary Artists Working With The Keystone Mast Collection. Low on juice, I plugged my phone in to charge in the study room. Sadly I did not get any photos of the archives. A special consideration for earthquake country, the glass plates are stored in seismically isolated bases that glide when shaken (or pushed) that will protect the glass negatives in the event of the eventual Big One. Before we left we got a peek into the Culver Center of the Arts, with an exhibition of contemporary art.

We topped off the evening with drinks at the Mission Inn before having dinner at Tio’s Tacos. The Mission Inn has been around since 1876 with further construction in 1903 and 1931. Madelyn Millen, retired UCR VR Curator, joined us for a bit and shared some wonderful updates from her post UCR life. We then walked over to Riverside hot spot Tio’s Tacos for eclectic and decidedly not seismically reinforced assemblage installations. The VRA crew took a few quiet moments in the chapel evaluating architectural significance and influences before chowing down on tacos and aguas frescas.

I’m looking forward to seeing everyone again at the annual VRA conference in Seattle this March, being held jointly with ARLIS/NA.

Tio's Tacos. Photo by Maureen Burns.

Tio’s Tacos. Photo by Maureen Burns.

Hello! An Introduction

SP16: INFO-200 Sec 10 – Inf. Comm Blog Post #1

Gleichenia immersa (Jamaica).; Anna Atkins (British, 1799 - 1871), and Anne Dixon (British, 1799 - 1877); 1853; Cyanotype; 25.4 x 20 cm (10 x 7 7/8 in.); 84.XO.227.90

Gleichenia immersa (Jamaica).; Anna Atkins (British, 1799 – 1871), and Anne Dixon (British, 1799 – 1877); 1853; Cyanotype; 25.4 x 20 cm (10 x 7 7/8 in.); 84.XO.227.90

Hi! I’m Krystal. I currently work at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, CA creating metadata for digital images. Most of the images I handle are produced by staff photographers who document the artwork in the museum’s collection.

This blue and white botanical image is an Anna Atkins cyanotype that is part of The Getty’s open content program. The Open Content Program allows high resolution downloads for free, unrestricted use of all of our digitized public domain works. Atkins’ scientific illustrations became one of the first books published with photographs.

Topics I’m interested in include: image management, metadata, museums, copyright, net neutrality, information literacy, UI/UX, public domain, and open access. I’ve studied and followed these topics for years and pursuing an MLIS was inevitable.

I have a BFA in Visual Media/Photography from Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, NY. After graduation I interned at the Albright-Knox Gallery in Buffalo, New York for a curator and in then in the Image Resource Center. After 5 years in the snow I moved back to sunny California, where I’m originally from, for an MA in Art Criticism & Theory from Art Center College of Design. Since then, I’ve done media wrangling at a software company, worked as a registrar for private art collections, and managed social media & communications for an arts organization. I’m now in the Collection Information & Access department at the Getty Museum. Digital asset management has been a common thread through out all of these positions. My goal in the SJSU MLIS program is to enhance these experiences with formalized study in information management.

On the weekends I like to go hiking with my husband and dog, read, cook, and visit museums. I can also be found on TwitterInstagramTumblrLinkedIn, and Goodreads.