User-designated tagging and Libraries

I’m a big fan of social tagging and the fabulously handy results one gets from pairing subscribing to tag streams. Sharing search results amongst others is so simple; no longer do I have to write explanatory emails and address them appropriately for whomever I think might be interested. Instead, tags can help to ensure the information is categorized and that other like-minded researchers will find it. My online time, always more limited than I want it to be, is now more effectively used; I’m generating a greater number of returns for the searches I do, because I can run them over a longer period of time through the wonder of RSS.

In this week’s readings I was impressed by Sam H. Kome’s Master’s paper Hierarchical subject relationships in folksonomies (2005). While he did not cite Peter Merholz’ 2004 work Metadata for the masses, I think they share some complementary beliefs. Merholz opined, “once you have a preliminary system in place [i.e., a naming system], you can use the most common tags to develop a controlled vocabulary that truly speaks the users’ language.” Kome mentions “several decades of research into human cognition and categorization activities have found that categorization is fundamental human activity” and identified an existant hierarchical naming structure within his sampling of user-designated tagging.

Other favourite quotes: John Udell, Conucopia of the commons: “Self-interested use leads to collective abundance.”

Joshua Porter, The lesson: “Personal value precedes network value.”

Rashmi Sinha, A social analysis of tagging: “All good systems need to serve the individual motive. Tagging works because it strikes a balance between the individual and the social.”

Together with an awareness of contemporary librarianship, these works help me to believe cataloguing can be revolutionized to be more meaningful for the end-users and yet still maintain an organizational structure.



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