Posted by: glundeen | January 1, 2008

Falling in love with tagging

Marshall Kirkpatrick’s Five Ways You Can Fall in Love With Tagging Again highlights how useful tagging can be. These 5 suggestions are great ways to sell others on tagging as well. I particularly like using tagging as a chance to reinforce learning, to go back and see what you’ve learned as well as what slipped through the cracks, or what turned out not to be so useful.

I tend to be a very haphazard tagger. I try to stick to certain self-created parameters, but my del.icio.us account is littered with tagging inconsistencies. I know my own way of thinking, but anyone else would just shake their head and wonder. Tagging can be whatever you want it to be, a system of your own design, a system without rules, a system without being a system at all. If the internet is truly a “web,” how do we organize it for ourselves, let alone our users?

We don’t have answers to that question yet, but tagging seems to be one of the more effective ways we’ve come up with so far. There are so many uses for tagging, seemingly infinite uses, all malleable for the user. I was recently asked about the use of tagging in public libraries and if I knew of any libraries that were using social tagging in their catalog, and sadly there are few, almost none. Perhaps the inherent shapelessness of tagging scares a lot of people off; if they can’t see it pre-defined, then they’re not interested in letting their patrons define it for themselves. It’s a shame, because public libraries should be embracing its social nature to reach more people online, to not only direct traffic to a library web site but get people to stay there, to spend time with it, to interact in a variety of ways that will lead them to discover all those hidden services they didn’t know existed, the databases, pathfinders, pages of links and digitized archives that otherwise might fly under the radar.

Kirkpatrick’s article mainly deals with tagging in relation to social bookmarking, which is a great place to start with it. Give people something they can actively use and watch it take off.

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