Friday, July 13, 2007

Week 6, #15: "Away From the Icebergs"

Week 6: Tagging, Folksonomies & Technorati

15. Read a few perspectives on Web 2.0, Library 2.0 and the future of libraries and blog your thoughts.

"Away From the Icebergs:"
In this article, Rick Anderson discussses the role of librarians and libraries in light of 2.0. One of the ideas he introduces is that we must realize that the library no longer has a monopoly on information. Now that anyone can "Google" a topic, or look something up in Wikipedia (among other places), we must consider changing the way we work to incorporate these tools, and help our customers.

I don't even like the idea of the library having a monopoly on information. Having so many tools out there that are freely available to anyone who chooses to use them is a bonus for customers - but also a bonus for the library. The amount of information that we can now access has increased manifold. So what if we don't own it? We get to use it, and what's more, it's mostly FREE!

Our role as information professionals has not been diminished; it's become enhanced, because now we can take on the job of helping people to understand and use these tools with a critical eye. Wikipedia, for example, is a tool where anyone can contribute. This means that the quality of the information may be uneven. We librarians should take on the role of teaching the public how to critically assess the information they find, just as we always have. I've been using Usenet newsgroups in the same way for quite a few years. I have used "hearsay" information I've uncovered by searching Usenet as clues that have helped me immensely when researching some obscure topic. With Wikipedia, all one really needs to know is that facts need to be verified via some other source. It's still an excellent jumping-off place, and I recommend it highly.

Anderson states that: "No profession can survive if it throws its core principles and values overboard in response to every shift in the zeitgeist. However, it can be equally disastrous when a profession fails to acknowledge and adapt to radical, fundamental change in the marketplace it serves. " I agree. I predict that there are lots of wonderful tools that are part of "2.0," but eventually, we will sift through and find that certain ones are nice, but not necessary in the library world. We will keep others that lend themselves heavily to the work we do. Some of those tools will evolve into even better ones. But we must go through all of this revolution, try out everything to get from where we started to where we are going.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Thing 13 &14, cont'd: Technorati Profile Post

Technorati Profile

This was the post that Technorati made me create so that I could claim my blog with them.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Things 13 & 14: Tagging, Folksonomies & Technorati

Week 6: Tagging, Folksonomies & Technorati

13. Learn about tagging and discover a (a social bookmaking site)
14. Explore Technorati and learn how tags work with blog posts.

Ok, I'm sold. At first I had a little difficulty trusting the whole "folksonomy" idea, but now that I've seen it work for me, I'm digging it. I am kind of a geek; I like to read and write fanfiction. Fanfiction is what fans of various TV series/movies/books, etc., write when they run out of media to view or read. There's a lot out there. Some of it is quite good. A lot of is is...not so good. Some of the stories that I have read are great, but they just don't appeal to me, because the authors have the characters doing things that are OOC (out-of-character), or just plain silly...or maybe even a little icky (Some authors like to turn characters into zombies, or werewolves, and that just ain't my bag, man.

Blogging and RSS REALLY enables my fanfiction habit. I can use a feed reader to let me know when my favorite authors have come up with something new, or an update to a story that is written in PARTS. Tagging makes it all even COOLER, because I can now also search the blog world (and other websites) for the kinds of stories I like. Also, I can gather links to the stories I want to re-read in Technorati OR I can tag my links to these stories using my own terminology so that I can find them again. Other people can see my tags, and use them as well. I can find people out there who liked particular stories that I enjoyed, and find out what else they have read, because sometimes, birds of a feather read together!

One issue bothers me, though. Not everyone tags as efficiently as everyone else. One person might lump all her favorite stories under "Star Trek: The Next Generation" and "fanfic" and "AU." I might use, for the same story: "STNG" and "fan fiction" and "alternate universe." If we don't use the same terms, it's likely that we might not find one another's links. Now, the logical solution would be for the software to cross-reference those similar terms, like LC subject headings. I'm not seeing that, so far - but I've only had a few days' experience with Technorati and, so maybe I just don't see it yet. So far, even within my own links, I must watch carefully that I use the same exact tags. Within my own account, this is fairly easy. I did have two sets of links at one point, though, because I thought I needed to place a comma after each term to separate it from the others. I ended up with one tag with a comma attached to the word, and another without.

And then there is the whole issue of the multi-word tag. This has bothered me for a while. If I want to tag with a concept, such as "Rhea's Birthday," it seems to be a problem. In, I end up with two funny tags with codes attached, and they are not linked to one another. If I leave out the quotation marks, I still will have two separate tags: one will be "Rhea's," and the other will be "Birthday." Technically, I can see that this will be okay, since, as long as I use both words, the links will be found. But - the "tag cloud" no longer seems to make sense when I do that. Who cares if I have this tag cloud with the words "birthday" and "Rhea" jumbled within?

I suppose I just need more time to get it.

I'm also not so certain about Technorati's authority feature. It tries to rate the authority of a blog based on how many others have linked to its pages. There are posts out there with an authority of 23,000! Well, my most popular blog has an authority of...6.

Note: So far, I have never attended a Star Trek convention - I swear! Please take me off the nerd list!