Who Moved My Library?

Commentary on the changing world of libraries, from the viewpoint of a corporate library.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

WSJ Article on Tagging Technology

This is a little late, but in the January 24th edition of the Wall Street Journal there was an article titled: "The Next Big Thing in Searching - Yahoo! and Others Embrace 'Tagging' as a Better Way to Find and Store Information" by Jessica E. Vascellaro.

In this article tagging is described as a way to "cut through the online clutter to deliver more relevant bits of information." This article states that tagging sites are "increasingly transitioning beyond places individuals go to for retrieving their favorite Web pages to sites they visit first when they want to search the internet." This puts the tagging sites in direct competition with search engine giants Google and Yahoo!. Some statistics from this article: 17% of Internet users say they always find what they are looking for when they use a search engine; Americans conducted more than 5 billion online searches in November 2005, up 9% from the previous year.

According to this artice the benefits of tagging are: the user assigns keywords (tags) to their favorite sites making their sites easy to search and retrieve; a user's tagged pages are stored on the web and available from any computer; and the greatest benefit of tagging sites is that a user can make their list of tags and sites available to and searchable by either a closed community of friends and family or all Web surfers. Downsides to tagging sites are: effectiveness of tagging services depends on the quality and quantity of the registered users; similar tags must be used in order to capture all the relevant pages; not enough people are using the services for it to be worth while.

While Flickr, PreFound.com, del.icio.us, and Kosmix.com are all mentioned in the text of the article only 5 sites made the "Tagosphere" table (below) (C) WSJ.


By making the WSJ I think tagging is certainly gaining momentum in the mainstream. What does this mean for libraries? How about allowing users to add their own personal tags to records in the OPAC? If you're not comfortable with that, how about subscribing to some sites in the tagosphere and creating a "Library's Recommendations" list of useful sites.

Just a few thoughts. Comments?

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