Response to lesson 9: tagging

Tagging! Tagging is so exciting.  Observing the way people tag things can give us some insight into the way they perceive information, which can in turn lead to increased understanding of their information-seeking behaviour.  It also allows users to classify things in a way that makes sense to them, which is an obvious bonus to the user as well as any like-minded people who can see the user’s tags.  It can also give us some idea of the user’s context, which is useful for both information behaviour research and for reference assistance.  Tagging is also just plain fun to explore!  I love seeing the way other people think about things, and tagging gives me a little window into that.
I’ve never used social bookmarking sites before, though I’ve been aware of them for some time.  For this lesson, I signed up on Delicious.  They sure do push their browser add-ons!  One of the first things I noticed when adding bookmarks is the spelling – since it’s free-text tagging, a webcomic I like had “humor” as one of the suggested tags.  For the sake of thoroughness, I went with both spellings, but that’s something to consider with the worldwide reach of social media.  It must be difficult to navigate this landscape if you are not an English speaker.
It quickly became clear to me that Delicious is a good way to lose hours at a time.  Whether it’s finding new websites related to my interests (HOW MANY free knitting patterns?! A TARDIS closet – I need one!) or cataloguing my rather oversized folder of bookmarks (I’m a bit of a stickler for consistency and detail when it comes to this sort of thing) I can see myself spending a lot of time on this site.  Oh hey, a tag cloud! Excuse me, I’m being sucked in. The narrowing/facet functionality in the tag explore section is pretty fantastic, especially since it’s integrated with search to some extent – the free text nature of the tags makes that essential.  I’ll save you the rest of my search nerdiness and just leave it at “this is a really well designed tool and I wish I had started using it sooner.”

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