Monday, August 21, 2006

Folksomic and Synchronic

Last night, I listened to a podcast from from Talis of members of the Library 2.0 Gang discussing tagging, folksomies and libraries. You can Download the MP3 here. I'd already written this post before a couple of coincidental things happened. More on that later.

I've been waiting to hear librarians talking about social tagging ever since I poked my duck like beak into Library 2.0. I particularly wanted to hear where our traditional cataloguing tools might fit. I wasn't disappointed. Paul Miller did make the point that it was 40 minutes into the total 45 before authorities were discussed.

Street performers - Australia (LCSH)

It was great to match people's voices with their blogs. All much as I imagined - except Paul Miller. I expected him to be brash and way too forward..something to do with the job title "Technology Evangelist", I guess. He was very English and politely witty in a way that made me think of old BBC radio series like My Word.

Synchroniciity number one - A couple of hours ago, Paul Miller actually commented on my "They DO mash" post. BTW, they received 18 entries in the Mashing Up the Library competition)

Some of the points raised that I found interesting (many of them by Karen Schneider, I think):
  • Tags and subject categories need not be mutually exclusive. There is merit in assigning both to a work (I'd presumed it was either /or).
  • Faceting and sub faceting is not really possible with tagging, but is an advantage of traditional classification.
  • Authority control is less important when you have large volumes of tags assigned to one work. So what if the same thing is tagged by 30 people as "felines", another 20 as "cats", and 5 more as "cat" - all provide access and there is built in "see also" referencing.
  • This may be a Long Tail issue. Very popular items will have lots of tags, but subject catgories may be the only way to find items in the Long Tail.
  • Some items are more findable with categories (French history for example), whereas some are better with tags, particulalry contemporary topics (like surferpunk).
  • Tagging probably works better when the tags others have assigned are offered, or somehow the system detects probable tags for the subject area. (a great project for someone, there).
  • People need to feel ownership of the enterprise before they will tag (explains why they do it like mad on Library Thing, but on Amazon, not so much)
  • Casey Bisson is working on a WordPress plugin to allow users to assign their own tags to items in a WordPress blog.
Synchronicity number two - This afternoon, the admin group for the lint blog (aka. the thali) has been discussing categories versus tagging for our blog. A tag cloud would look great and categories can get hard to maintain. You can't have RSS feeds for tags, like you can for categories.


Paul Miller said...

"English" !!! ? {sigh}

Glad you found the podcast interesting, though...


Kathryn Greenhill said...

Jings and Crivvens! I'm in hot water.

If I said I meant the accent was Scottish, but the manner was courteous and precise like the English, I think I'd be even further in trouble?

(As a Western Australian schoolkid, I used to read "Oor Wullie" and "The Broons" each week. My best friend's mother had the Orcadian mailed out. So, you'd think I'd know better!)

Just goes to show how unreliable uncontrolled tagging can be!