This week you’ll learn about tagging and the social bookmarking web site called del.icio.us (it’s pronounced just like the word “delicious”).
Tagging is a new form of classification used in many Web 2.0 apps, including some you’ve already learned about in previous weeks — blogs, LibraryThing, and Flickr.
You can think of tags as informal labels, used to help organize a collection of resources or to find a specific resource again. When tagging, you can use words, acronyms, numbers, asterisks, or whatever makes sense to you. Tagging gives you the power to tailor and give organizational value to your own online experience, and contribute to the online experience of others.
The concept of tagging may cause discomfort to library staff! Rather than a cataloger assigning Library of Congress or Sears subject headings to a web site, individuals assign subjective, unstructured & free-form keywords and/or phrases. There is no controlled vocabulary or synonym control, and there are no hierarchical relationships in tagging.
In the words of Ellyssa Kroski, “The wisdom of crowds, the hive mind, and the collective intelligence are doing what heretofore only expert catalogers, information architects and website authors have done.”
A “tag cloud” is a visual representation of tags used on a specific site or page. In most tag clouds, the more frequently used tags are depicted in a larger font, while also displayed in alphabetical order. Selecting a single tag within a tag cloud will generally lead to a collection of items that are associated with that tag.
The best way to understand a tag cloud is to see one! Here are a couple of examples:
- All time most popular tags in Flickr
In this example, you can see that wedding is the most popular tag (look how big it is!)
- The US Presidential Speeches Tag Cloud
This interesting site uses tag clouds to represent words used in presidential speeches. Along with big font meaning more mentions, there is also a difference in color to represent when a particular word reached its peak usage in history (so you can see terrorists and Iraq are not only used a lot, but also a recent addition to the presidential speech vocabulary). Use the slider above the cloud to see older speeches.
Some libraries are opening their online catalogs, allowing customers to add user-friendly tags to library item records. Melissa L. Rethlefsen says this new trend, “… help[s] librarians bridge the gap between the library’s need to offer authoritative, well-organized information and their patrons’ web experience.” One library offering this feature is the Ann Arbor District Library. In the right-hand column of the catalog’s main screen are dynamically-generated lists of the Top 10 Tags, 10 Most Recent Tags, 10 Random Tags; here’s one example http://www.aadl.org/sopac/tag/time%20travel/ of a record that’s been tagged “time travel”.
To understand what del.icio.us is, first enjoy this 3-minute video, “Social Bookmarking in Plain English”:
del.icio.us is a social bookmarking website, which means it’s designed to allow you to store, create and share bookmarks online. It makes your bookmarks personal, portable & sharable. It’s a collection of favorites – yours, mine and everyone else’s.
Each del.icio.us bookmark contains a link, an optional description, and a set of tags. You can assign as many tags to a bookmark as you like, and easily rename or delete them later.
You can even subscribe to the newsfeed for someone’s bookmarks, or just items that have been tagged with a certain keyword; you can see examples of both of these at http://www.bloglines.com/public/WindyFox in the folder marked “del.icio.us”.
Here are examples of some ways you can use del.icio.us:
Research – Use del.icio.us to keep track of all the materials you find online. Joy is doing just that for a course she’s teaching; you can peek at her del.icio.us bookmarks here: http://del.icio.us/libtwo/
Wishlist – Instead of creating an Amazon wishlist, use the tag “wishlist” for the items you’d like to receive, and then share your wishlist by giving a link to http://del.icio.us/username/wishlist
Cookbook – When you find a great recipe on a website, save it to del.icio.us. Tag it with the recipe’s ingredients, method or style of cooking (grill, Chinese, etc.) and when you need ideas for what to make for dinner, you can use your del.icio.us bookmarks to find those recipes you saved.
Collaboration – Friends, coworkers, and other groups can use a shared account, special tag, or their del.icio.us networks to collect and organize bookmarks that are relevant and useful to the entire group. As an example, here’s the del.icio.us bookmarks http://del.icio.us/haveuheard/ that I & three colleagues used as a workspace to collaborate on a WAPL 2007 conference program; we tagged items with asterisks to indicate which ones each person felt were most important to cover during the presentation, and it worked really slick.
Here are examples of ways libraries are using del.icio.us for their patrons:
• Seminole County Library http://del.icio.us/SeminoleCountyLibrary
• Menasha Public Library Recommended Websites http://del.icio.us/MenashaLibrary (note the “bundling” of tags by topic)
• San Mateo Public Library (tags are bundled together by Dewey Decimal number) http://del.icio.us/SanMateoLibrary
• Nashville Public Library Teen Web Links (note the use of a tag cloud) http://www.library.nashville.org/teens/teenweb.asp
Tagging your blog postings
So, at the beginning of this lesson, we mentioned that blogs use tags. You can use tags for your blog postings on Blogger, if you’d like. In Blogger, they call tags “labels”.
When you’re adding a new post, just add some subject words (separated by commas) to the labels box at the bottom of the post. It’s that easy! You’ll see the labels appear at the bottom of the post.
If you’d like to add tags (aka labels) to posts you’ve already written, it’s easy to do that, too:
1. After you’ve logged into Blogger, click “Posts” to manage your posts.
2. Click “Edit” next to any post you want to add labels to.
3. Add your labels.
4. Click “Publish Posts”
Not so bad, right?
You can also display your labels in the sidebar of your blog, so people can click on a label and see all of the posts with that label. You do this with Blogger’s “Layout” feature. If you’ve already added a blogroll or picture or other things to your blog, you know how to do this already. Just choose to add “Labels”. If you haven’t done this before, and you’re interested in doing it, check out the step-by-step instructions from Blogger.
1. Write a post in your blog about this week’s lesson and add some tags/labels to the post. Some questions to consider: How can libraries harness the “massive amounts of participation” in tools like del.icio.us? Where else could libraries use tags? Is the concept of tagging, with its uncontrolled vocabulary, unsettling to you?
2. Explore del.icio.us: Search for something you’re interested in. Try clicking on different things in an entry to see what happens (What happens when you click on the title of the bookmarked page? How about the tags? How about the “saved by xxx people” link?)
2. Choose someone’s account in del.icio.us who is linking to things you particularly like, and subscribe to their RSS feed in your Bloglines account. (HINT: Once you get to their del.icio.us page, look for the orange RSS icon at the bottom of the page!). If you can’t find someone’s account to subscribe to, try Libraryman.Tags: Delicious, feeds, RSS, social bookmarking, tagclouds, tagging, tags