thing #14: library 2.0*

29 09 2008

One of my classmates in high school, whose name I cannot remember, would always debate with me about labeling people, insisting that it was a very narrow thing to do.  He was a total hippy — complete with all the “recreational” things hippys like to do.  This was the kid who, in art class, convinced the teacher that we should listen to exclusively Steve Miller Band and Bob Marley (and the occasional Grateful Dead) while painting.  Unfortunately for me, this was the general culture at my school.  I would rather chew glass than listen to “that kind” of music and partake of “that kind” of culture.

I was a punk rock straight edge kid.  He despised that I labeled myself straight edge and would CONSTANTLY debate me about it.  Over a decade later, I have to say: he was right.  Labels (tags) are for things, not people.  Tagging things is the best!  I mean, COME ON, “folksonomy” is one of the BEST WORDS EVER.  On the other hand, labeling people may be convenient, but it quickly becomes snarky and toxic.

Not only was he right, but I have also grown to love Bob Marley and Steve Miller Band (still hate the Dead though).  The high school version of myself is rolling over in her grave right now.

What does this have to do with library 2.0?

I think the most library-esque web 2.0 thing that we can capitalize on is tagging.  What a fabulous way to bring a craptastic catalog to life.  Just look at what Darien Library has done so far with their fledgling SOPAC.  Although I wish it were in alpha order, I love the tag cloud on the right.  And I love their special “better than the book” tag.  Genius!

Someone slipped me a Darien Library card number, allowing me to do some tagging of my own.  I ran into a surprising problem: it doesn’t appear to let me create a multi-word tag.  Strange.  For this (lovely) book, I tried to add the tag “talking animals.”  It separated the phrase into two tags.  Surely, I must be missing something because the tag cloud on the right makes it quite clear that multi-word tags are possible.  If you’re able to add multi-word tags on Darien’s SOPAC, please enlighten me!

I can’t wait for web 2.0 stuff to come live at CML’s catalog.  For reals, I can’t wait!

And I’ll say it again: I heart tagging (and the word “folksonomy”).

*Sometimes, when libraries talk about “library 2.0” and “web 2.0,” I fear they have become the equivalent of THAT GUY who wears the band’s tshirt to said band’s concert.  You know, that guy who makes the cool things, those that are supposed to be subtle, a bit too obvious and obnoxious.  I don’t want to be that guy.




3 responses

30 09 2008

I know what you mean about not wanting to be “that guy.” I keep putting off my Library 2.0 post for that reason… I’ll get around to it eventually, but I don’t want to belabor the point.

And you are totally right, the word folksonomy is the best! 🙂

30 09 2008

I disagree with you. Labeling people and things gives order and structure. Everything we do is defined by labeling, like it or not. Its people that don’t want to be “labeled” by society are people who are ashamed of themselves and who they are. What are you ashamed of? What do you not want people to see?

I am straight edge and I will wear that label to my grave. 13+ years strong with that label, with no end in sight.

Take pride in who you are and what you believe. Saying you don’t agree with labels doesn’t change the fact that its still going to happen, so embrace it.

6 10 2008


In order to add multi-word tags, place quotation marks around the words.
I think labels are okay for convenience sake, in particular, if you are the one defining yourself. But in the case of “race”, just to point out the most obvious example, placing labels on people has not done anybody any favors, including the folks that first justified and continue to justify the usage of those terms in the first place. Labels tend to be helpful in the short term when dealing with people, but many folks lose sight of the fact that they aren’t the complete picture. Labeling can give order and structure, but usually its just a shortcut that foments ignorance instead of true understanding.

Labels for things are good, but you still run into the “my label is better than your label”. That’s why tagging is such a great way of labeling because it democratizes the process. Many times you end up with way too many tags, but the opposite outcome of limited diversity/viewpoints of a “thing”, even by “experts”, is less desirable.

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