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« Reactions to Digital Maoism | Main | Wiki Symposium 2006 »

June 10, 2006

PennTags - When card catalogs meet tags

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Posted by David Weinberger

University of Pennsylvania’s PennTags project allows readers to tag catalogued items. It’s a great way to track resources for a research project and simultaneously make the results of your forays available to future researchers. In fact, it seems just plain selfish not to do so.

Integrating tagging with the book catalogue (and therefore with the book taxonomy) instantaneously provides the best of both worlds: Structured browsing leads you to nodes with jumping off points into the connections made by others who are putting those nodes into various contexts, and tags lead you back into the structured world organized by experts in structure.

My guess is that the folksonomy that emerges will not change the existing taxonomy because in a miscellaneous world you don’t have to change something in order to change it. The existing taxonomy could stay exactly as it is, as the folksonomy supplements it by providing synonyms for existing categories (e.g., a search for “recipes” takes you to the “cuisine” category of the existing taxonomy) and leaping-off-points from it into the user-created clusters of meaning (e.g., here’s the tag cloud for the node you’re browsing). Rather than disrupting, transforming or replacing the existing taxonomy, the folksonomy may just affectionately tousle its hair.

Anyway, PennTags looks like a great project.

(U of Penn’s Library Staff Blog is here. And here is the newtech category of that blog. On a quick browse, this looks like a terrific resource if you’re interested in libraries, taxonomies, folksonomies, tagging, etc.) [Tags: ]

Comments (3) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: social software


1. Owen on June 14, 2006 12:07 PM writes...

This idea has come up in discussions with other Koha developers, but the public librarian part of me immediately wonders how you deal with situations where one user's tags are offensive to another? See this post on Rebecca's Pocket for an example of how such things can go awry. Do we have an obligation to censor or not censor when we're accepting user input?

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2. insurance auto on June 21, 2006 10:18 AM writes... auto site insurance. auto site insurance, car site insurance, The autos insurance company. from website .

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3. New Median on June 21, 2006 1:41 PM writes...

As someone who has used the PennTags system as an undergrad, I think the taxonomy that has emerged is generally good, but I feel it would be generally improved by a sort of wiki capability. There are some misspellings, as well as unique tags that could be combined more effectively.

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