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Christina's LIS Rant
Thursday, January 20, 2005
  Many-to-Many: social consequences of social tagging
Post by Liz Lawley. (I knew I liked a lot of things she says, now I know why... she's a librarian!)

This well reasoned post discusses the problems with folksonomy from a librarian point of view for a lay audience. My background in classification and cataloging is pretty weak and other arguments I've read haven't been so persuasive. We're not just trying to protect jobs or being old fashioned by saying there's a need for professional catalogers for the best information access. There's really a lot involved in actually cataloging or classifying things correctly.

Update 1/24: After reading more from Shirkey, I still think the best access to information comes from professional cataloging, but I'd like to see a compromise. What if when we're all tagging, we get a chance to choose from a list of tags relevant to our subject, that already have built-in crosswalks to other taxonomies? Say I do a lot of blogging in physics. Maybe when it's time to tag my pictures, links, and posts it should suggest tags from PACS or MSC or the Inspec Thesaurus but allow custom tags as necessary. Even if an established thesaurus isn't used, maybe there should be a list of common tags that you can search so that you can pick the right one or a tag checking function (you tagged this USA, UnitedStates is more frequently used, would you like to change?). I really don't think the wild west of tagging does much for precision or recall even if it does promote serendipity. (ok, and I have to also add that the blogger spell check keeps wanting to replace blogging with flogging... how funny is that?)

 
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This is my blog on library and information science. I'm into Sci/Tech libraries, special libraries, personal information management, sci/tech scholarly comms.... My name is Christina Pikas and I'm a librarian in a physics, astronomy, math, computer science, and engineering library. I'm also a doctoral student at Maryland. Any opinions expressed here are strictly my own and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer or CLIS. You may reach me via e-mail at cpikas {at} gmail {dot} com.

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