Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Thing 9/10: Social bookmarking and tagging

This project is getting me involved with a lot of Yahoo stuff; and me a Google man (kinda)! Actually that's not fair: there have been Google-related projects too. I logged on with my Yahoo sign-in, created a Delicious account and added a Bookmarklet and a 'MyDelicious' tool on the toolbar of my laptop. That made it very easy to go to a few sites I like and bookmark them on Delicious; I also tagged them with the 'ox23' tag and sent a bookmark to the 23Things blogger.

Next, as part of Thing 10, I found a potentially interesting Oxford Delicious user by searching the directory: The Oxford Philosophy Library (I'm a philosophy graduate: in a past life I studied at that library... though not as much as I studied in G&Ds on Little Clarendon); added that to my network. Then I added their RSS feed to Google Reader (flooding it with Philosophy Library bookmarks).

After doing a search on Delicious for the tag "folksonomies," I scanned a couple of papers on the topic (which I tagged with "ox23"). Some interesting issues were raised, especially for librarians with some stake or interest in classification. The contention over the value of the 'folk' classification afforded by tagging struck me as exemplifying a broader debate over the value of web-based content, such as blogs and Wikipedia, relative to traditional publishing - at least insofar as the former eschew in principle, or are at least in practice (too varying degrees) not governed by, bodies of expert authorities. The ad hoc, free-form nature of 'folksonomic' tags seemed, naturally enough, to have pros and cons, the cons being that the categorizations that emerge on a folksonomic model have an inherent inconsistency and arbitrariness, generated as they are by highly personal needs, or multifarious and untutored criteria.

It strikes me the advantages of Delicious are most apparent in the context of shared projects, involving participants who can benefit from a flexible and customisable shared 'space', but establish their own criteria to ensure the appropriate consistency and rigour of their bespoke tags; or as part of a single individual's projects. As far as relying on the the tagging idiosyncrasies of an indeterminate, anonymous and inscrutable user-base, I felt less confident (though perhaps trying Delicious out for longer might persuade me otherwise). However, some reason for optimism about this new model did come from one article, which postulated that feedback loops through 'metadata' facilitated, in effect, a tacit negotiation over the meaning of tags, as users are able to assess the usefulness of their own candidate tagging choices by seeing what items from other users surface with that same tag - giving them the opportunity to modify theirs. Still, whether this kind of evolution would yield overall benefits, or completely obviate the disadvantages of tagging anarchy is unclear.

In other news, I have been playing with Google Chrome - my search engine of choice just recently - looking for additions that would enhance the browser on my lap-top. There is plenty to choose from: A translate button; a dictionary add-on which makes definitions of words pop-up when you double-click them; a scroll feature which gives you the option of scrolling straight to the phrases you searched for; an RSS subscribe button; lastly a 'share' button which enables you to directly share web-pages with a variety of platforms (Facebook, Twitter) in one click (this last one - or two: 'AddToAny' and ' Shareaholic' - I have hesitated with because they are not 'official' and I wanted to find reviews and endorsements of them). The share feature appealed to me since it was a direct one-click way of sharing on with a variety of platforms.

1 comment:

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