Monday, February 9, 2009

Week 5 - Social Bookmarking and Tagging

"The Web is a big place, full of new and interesting things to discover. The problem is finding the good stuff and keeping track of it all"

This is where Social Bookmarking and Tagging come onto the scene. We will be looking at two revolutionary services this week that provide a new way of organizing information on the web.

First, some quick definitions:

Social Bookmarking allows you to store, organize, search and manage bookmarks of web pages. It differs from traditional bookmarking services in that its service is not tied to individual computers. You are no longer using the web browser to manage bookmarks, instead they resides on the Internet and can be accessed from any computer with Internet access. One of the interesting things about this new form of bookmarking is that it's social! You can share your favourite links with friends, co-workers, and even the general public.

Common Crafts have created an excellent introduction to Social Bookmarking using the website as an example:

Tagging (Also, referred to as *Folksonomy, collaborative tagging, social classification and social indexing) is the practice and method of collaboratively creating and managing tags to annotate and categorize content. In contrast to traditional subject indexing, metadata is generated not only by experts but also by creators and consumers of the content. Usually, freely chosen keywords are used instead of a controlled vocabulary.

*Folksonomy (from folk + taxonomy) is a user-generated taxonomy.

Tagging also allows the creation of Tag Clouds which helps you to visualize the textual information.

A Tag cloud is a visual depiction of user-generated tags or simply the word content of a site, used typically to describe the content of web sites. Tags are usually single words and listed alphabetically with the importance of a tag shown in font size and color.

An excellent example of Tag Clouds can be seen at

Social Bookmarking at Ryerson:
On the bottom of Ryerson's web pages, you'll see the following:

These are a combination of popular social bookmarking, social networking and social news sites in use today. By having these links at the bottom of the pages, we're provide users of those sites a quicker way to bookmark our pages. University Advancement have provided a quick explanation of those services if you want to learn more.

Social Bookmarking and Tagging in Libraries:

Many libraries have embraced social bookmarking and tagging even though adding keywords to resources lack Authority Control. There is a lot of controversy regarding this use of user contributed tagging in libraries. If you are interesting in learning more, the 'Additional Reading' section of this entry has some links to the discussion.

University of Pennsylvania have their own Social Bookmarking and Tagging website called PennTags which lets their patrons navigate and tag their entire collection of online resources.

Harvard's H2O program have also implemented tagging (in beta testing) to help faculty, students and staff navigate through online resources using "rich links" (i.e. social tagging).

Some libraries use Social Bookmarking for their Research Guides. This provides patrons with the most relevant information (as long as the Librarian keeps their links organized and up to date).

Activities for this Week:

Step 1. Sign up for an account on (registration page)

Step 2. Install the Bookmarklets for This will make your social bookmarking experience a lot easier.

Step 3. a) Find ten websites that you think your fellow library staff-mates should know about.

Step 3. b) Bookmark each of these sites in and assign them descriptive tags of your choice and also add the tag 'RULA20' to them.

Step 4. When you are done, check out the websites that other people tagged with RULA20. Did anyone else tag the same sites as you?

Step 5. Blog about your experiences.
  • Was the experience liberating? Empowering? Horrifying?
  • Does a lack in authority control bother you?
  • Should social bookmarking and tagging be used in libraries? If so, how do you think they should be used? If not, why not?
Congratulations! You're now a social bookmarker! Feel free to keep bookmarking and tagging sites that you come across in your travels with for the remainder of the course. Also, check the RULA20 tag often to find some interesting links tagged by your colleagues!

What!?!?! You haven't had your tagging fill yet? you want to do more?

The following steps are optional:

Step 6: Go back and edit your blog posts and add tags to each entry.
(Note: Blogger calls them 'Labels for this post')

Step 7: Turn on your blog's Tag Cloud which will show the most popular tags for your blog.

Additional (Optional) Reading:
- Folksonomies - Cooperative Classification and Communication Through Shared Metadata
- Metadata for the Masses
- Library of Congress controlled vocabularies and their application to the Semantic Web
- Tags Help Make Libraries

Resources used in this entry:
- Wikipedia - Social Bookmarking
- Common Crafts - Social Bookmarking
- Wikipedia - Folksonomy
- Tags Help Make Libraries
- Social Tagging for Library Science
- Wikipedia - Tag Clouds


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