After reading this week’s lesson, I decided to sign up for LibraryThing. I’ll talk about that a little further down. I have little to no experience with tagging, other than what I learned in LIS9006 Online Searching, where we used CiteULike. This was, however, quite academic and perhaps in my case a little less useful for my everyday life. I had previously heard the term folksonomies, but didn’t really know what it meant. It makes such sense, though – “folk” (which to me feels like comfortable and ordinary, just how most of us probably are) and “taxonomy” (classification). While I have not read the book The Wisdom of Crowds, I am quite intrigued by the concept. Is the wisdom of many better than the wisdom of a few “experts”? In some situations, perhaps not, but I do think with folksonomies it makes sense. Why not classify items it ways that are culturally meaningful and relevant to those who need and use the classification systems?
The idea of tagging isn’t new – that was a new thought for me. I did not realize, as Diane pointed out in her blog, that folk-based taxonomies have been around for many years in different disciplines, such as anthropology and biology. And here I thought this was all new in Web 2.0.
Back to LibraryThing. I decided to try that site as I have heard people talk about it and have seen it used in my church library, but I hadn’t actually used it myself. It has been very helpful for the volunteers there to keep track of, categorize, and tag the entire collection of this little library. Since I do love to read but I am not good at remembering what “good” books I’ve read, with a few exceptions, I thought it might be a handy way for me to keep track of what I’ve read, what I’ve liked, and perhaps get new ideas of what I might like to read based on other readers’ tags. Sign-up was extremely easy. A name and an email address was all I needed and I was good to go. I started with one of my all time favourite John Grisham novels, The Firm. It was easy to find and there was even an image of the cover. I then added three tags: Grisham, lawyer, loved it! Further down there was a tag cloud and I saw that lawyer and Grisham were fairly prominent, but “loved it” didn’t show up as a popular tag. That’s okay, I thought, as it is my own personal tag. Rather folksy and comfortable, I thought. Interestingly, it then showed me other members who had recently tagged the same book, a clear invitation to browse their virtual bookshelves as they may have similar reading tastes to mine. I clicked on one, just to see, Robin13, and discovered that she too, became a member today, is a MLIS student, and tagged several Grisham books. It seemed that with every click, I could go further in, see all of that user’s tags and clouds, including author tags, and so much more! Diane was right to warn that this site could become addictive! I can see how I have just begun to scratch the surface!! <rubs hands together in anticipation>. I quickly tagged two other books, Lisa Genova’s Still Alice, a gripping read which I still think about a lot. This book I tagged: Alzheimer’s and early onset. Right away I could see that there were other tags and suggestions of books that I might want to read on the same topic. Lastly, for today, I added Brian Goldman’s The Night Shift and tagged it: ER, doctors, true stories. As with the other two books, there are a myriad of directions I could go within LibraryThing just by clicking on other links, reviews, tags, etc. Try it – but beware, you might get hooked! I think I am.
I think it would be really great for more libraries to use allow this type of tagging and reviewing in their OPACs, but it has to be user friendly. I took a quick peek at Oakville Public Library’s OPAC and I really liked how the tags were easy to see and would clearly lead a reader into all kinds of discoveries based on other’s tags and reviews. How appropriate this is, I believe for libraries, to allow for the interaction of the larger group within itself to engage its community and promote the collection.That sounds a bit like a recurring theme throughout our lessons this semester: public, collective thinking and interaction, using social software to connect us all!