Thursday, July 19, 2012

Tagging: Think Hansel and Gretel with a More Promising Outcome

Ready for more web 2.0 information? Last week we talked about cloud computing, today the focus is on tagging. If you have a topic you would like covered in the coming weeks please leave a comment and I will do my very best!

I think I can safely say that most if not all of us have witnessed the remnants of other people’s virtual travels – they leave a comment, they tag a photo, they “like” a post, they create boards, albums, and profiles. I compare tagging to Hansel and Gretel because in the confusing and overwhelming world that is the Internet it is easy to get lost, forget places you went, and struggle to find the people and places you are seeking. Tagging is like leaving breadcrumbs along your way for easier travels!  

Today’s social media and many websites provide ample opportunities for you to become involved in digital creation and categorizing through tagging so let’s learn how to drop some crumbs!

What exactly is tagging?
If you’ve recently spent time with a child learning to identify objects, places, and people you’ve seen the roots of tagging. When we tag online we are virtually pointing at something and using our words to describe what it is, how we feel about it, or where it belongs in our larger picture. Most tagging opportunities involve clicking on an object and simply typing in the description we wish to add.

Where do I tag?
Almost everywhere these days! For now I’ll be highlighting a few of the most current and popular venues for you to get your tag on!

1. Facebook: Mainly used for tagging people in photos to create an album. However, when you “like” something on Facebook you are essentially creating tags of “likes” that express your interests and direct others to see what it is you “like”. If you don’t already have an account with Facebook the library offers patrons 1 hour of free internet access daily so you are welcome to come on in and get started!

2. BiblioCommons (the SPL catalog): You can sign in on your library account and tag materials in a variety of ways such as genre, theme, character, setting, likeability… you have the creative control to tag items using your own words. The novel, The Help, is an example of a book with many tags including “historical fiction”, “civil rights”, “sad”, “friendship” and “Mississippi” as noted on the right hand column of the record. Visit us at the reference desk for a personal intro to BiblioCommons!

3. Pinterest: Although Pinterest uses the term “Pin” in place of “tag” it is actually doing the same thing. Sites such as Del.ici.ous attempted this concept with less success (perhaps because it was less visually attractive)! The SPL has a Pinterest board you can subscribe to or just visit online to see how it works. If you’d like to create your own simply register with the site and get creative – think grade school collage and then mature that version to your current interests!

Why do I tag?
Tags make it easy to find and share information about a specific subject or task. They are a way of collaborating like-minded individuals all over the world. Tags help direct others and can provide improved online searching capabilities. Tagging provides extra information about what you are viewing online. It is a way of filtering in the age of information overload.

Where I can I get more information?
TaggingOption 1: The SPL shelves, see: Tagging: People-powered Metadata for the Social Web by Gene Smith.
Option 2: Databases such as Computer Database are provided by SPL and accessible in the library or from home. Or try Mashable for the latest tagging stories.
Option 3: The reference desk! We are always happy to help!

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