Friday, November 27, 2009

Thing #17 - Tagging

Tags are another part of this whole Web 2.0 thing, but they are actually very familiar territory for those of us who just so happen to work in libraries. Many sites now allow users to "tag" items, adding descriptive keywords to photos, blog posts, links, videos, and much more. But think about it - couldn't I say the same thing about subject headings in the library catalog? Of course I could! And when you think about tags in that library-oriented way, it makes so much more sense.

When you're looking for a book in the catalog, and you don't know what the title is, a subject keyword search will very often connect you to what you're looking for. Tagging on websites works the same way, with one big exception. Subject headings are determined by library catalogers. In most cases, tags can be added by any user.

We've seen tagging a few times already in this Web Challenge. You can add tags (aka labels) to your blog posts. You can tag books in
LibraryThing. You can tag people in photos you post on Facebook. YouTube videos have tags too - if you go back to that Wedding Dance video we linked to a few posts ago, you don't see tags right away. But if you click on "more info", you'll see that there are tags.

Why are tags useful?

If we go back to that YouTube example, several of the tags included "wedding" "wedding entrance" "creative wedding" "wedding dance ideas" and more. You can click those links and you'll be taken to a YouTube search for those terms. Or, a user who didn't know about that video in the first place may have done a search for "wedding entrance", and the tags on this particular video will help that video turn up in search results.

If my friend Pete posts a photo on Facebook and I'm in the photo, he can tag me in his photo. Then when people go to MY page, they will see a link to Pete's photo when they look for photos of me. (You can turn this feature off if you don't like it!)

Remember the
tagmash in LibraryThing? The user-added tags there helped find books you don't know you're interested in. Or they help you assist the customer who knows they're looking for a book about the black death but can't remember the title.

The thing about tags is that because they are added by users, sometimes they are redundant or too generic. They'd probably annoy a vigilant cataloger. However, because they are so unrestricted, it can help refine searches in a way we haven't seen before.

To complete Thing #17, try out ONE of the following:
1. Go back to
LibraryThing and search for your favorite book. Take a look at the tags. Are there any unexpected tags? Are there any tags you'd add?
2. If you use
Facebook, has a friend tagged you in a photo? Have you tagged someone in a photo you posted?
3. Tag your next blog post. (When you're composing a post, look at the bottom. There's a box called "labels for this post".) What keywords would you use?
4. We used a fun site called
Wordle to create the tag cloud at the top of the post. Visit the site and try creating a Wordle out of a site you like. Or just add in a few of your favorite words and see what happens.

Write a blog post about what you tried. Did you like tagging things? Do you think it's useful or fun? Does it annoy you that it's so freeform?

PS. For those of you with Windows Vista or Windows 7, the Photo Gallery software allows you to tag photos you've taken with your digital camera. Imagine being able to tag all the photos of your family and friends with their names! You'd be able to do a quick search and find all the photos of your brother or sister in one shot.

1 comment:

  1. I use FaceBook all the time. It's great to be tagged in photos. It's a great way to share pictures amongst friends from special events.