Lesson # 9 Bookmarking, Tagging, and Folksonomies

I am so pleased to have had the opportunity to read Clay Shirky’s 2005 article, Ontology Is Overrated: categories, links and tags. The two concepts of classification and tagging were clearly defined and developed in his writing and through well chosen illustrative examples. The user advantages of tagging for information finding presented in Clay Shirky’s article provided compelling reasons for the adoption of tagging in library catalogues. He offered a noteworthy outline that suggested when an ontological classification scheme works and doesn’t work, demonstrating the need for both tagging and classification in libraries. It is encouraging to see the examples of library catalogues currently using both tagging and traditional classification schemes. My public library service experience concurs with Clay Shirky’s assertion: “… the frailty of human memory and the physical fact of books make some sort of organizational scheme a requirement, and hierarchy is a good way to manage physical objects.” In fact the Dewey Decimal System used in my public library is functional in that each book has a physical place and is in a logical arrangement. This physical and classified arrangement is important, providing patrons with a collection that can be browsed. From my experience in the public library, the classification and arrangement of the Dewey Decimal System continues to function as an important information seeking tool and discovery strategy for many patrons who physically brows the shelves of the library. However, in my library service experience I have also assisted users confounded by the traditional library categorization scheme. One very well educated patron came to the desk exasperated while searching an online university database by subject. She was unable to find the subject terminology to unlock the vast body of knowledge in the collection to satisfy her query. This intelligent woman was completely frustrated by the limitations of the classification scheme.  In this case, the inclusion of less limiting user generated tags would have improved the likelihood of finding the information she sought. As Clay Shirky explained, tagging offers a multiplicity of points of view and this single fact alone improves information retrieval from the user’s perspective “…the question isn’t “Is everyone tagging any given link ‘correctly'”, but rather “Is anyone tagging it the way I do?”  As long as at least one other person tags something they way you would, you’ll find it.” (2005). The value of tagging in developing and delivering a multiplicity of view points for retrieval of information is significant and ought to be included in library catalogues.



Shirky, C. (2005). Ontology is Overrated: Categories, Links, and Tags . In Clay Shirky’s Writings About the Internet. Retrieved March 17, 2013, from http://www.shirky.com/writings/ontology_overrated.html

Lesson # 8: Twitter

Each of this week’s articles offered a different perspective of twitter, deepening my understanding of the media platform and its culture, users, and possibilities for use in a library context.  I found that my experience and engagement with twitter supported what was expressed in the reading.  The information shared was more public, one way in its communication, and suited to mobile consumption and use. As a non-active tweeter, I discovered that engaging in twitter required some devotion of time to understand twitter specific jargon and use, i.e. RT, @, #, ow.lylg’CK3G.  As well, because twitter uses many acronyms, I required some additional effort to decipher meaning, i.e.# GBDA?, #VAWA? .  

Real-time information delivery to solve information needs in the Library context:

  I found twitter effective in soliciting and producing a real-time information stream, through posing the question, “What’s happening?” In scrolling through  the tweets I was able to appreciate the value of the real-time delivery of large amounts of data offering up crowd sourced topics of interest. Real-time specific tweeters who posed questions also provided opportunity for fellow tweeters to respond with real-time solutions. In one local posting, a user asked for help locating a missing dog, and another posting warned of traffic interruptions caused by an emergency water main break. This use of the platform for the provision of real-time information solutions in a library context was presented in article The Embedded Librarian.  In the article librarian Ellen Hampton Filgo offered information resources and sources to a university class through twitter, responding to in-class queries as they arose in real-time. Real-time solutions to information needs were also presented the article How Your Library May Not be Using Twitter But Should. Through the example of Tweet Style #5 “interact”, librarian David Kelly utilized the search tools of twitter to retrieve posts with the term library within a radius of 25 miles and offered solution to tweeters in real-time. However, In both cases the librarians discussed the time resource required to monitor and offer solution via twitter in real-time. The embedded librarian Ellen Hampton Filgo, realizing the heavy time resources required to deliver the service, looked for ways to scale the service for viability.

 Real-time delivery of the topics and thoughts of the body of twitter users also has value in offering crowd sourced relevant topics ideal for in house library displays and promotion of library materials by supplying non-digital library materials topical to the needs of library users.  This week’s trending topics such as the Oscars, Stomping Tom Connor’s death and Chevaz’s passing  would all be hot library items sought for circulation.

One way communication suitable for mobile technologies.

The platform’s ability in sharing one way communication ideally  suited for mobile consumption provides an opportunity for the library to easily promote the programmes and services and maintain a library presence in twitter. While scrolling through the postings I found many examples of libraries using twitter for the purpose of promoting library programmes such as an upcoming Appy Hour, teen video contests, March Break programming, author readings, and an invitation to flash mob at the local grocery store etc. This sort of promotional message is easily absorbed and consumed while passing the couple of minutes between our varied daily tasks (I personally appreciated this aspect of twitter). The article Twitter vs. Facebook provided an excellent overview of the different cultures and communities of the two platforms, emphasizing that the two do not necessarily overlap. It made me wonder: given the ability to post a single message across twitter and facebook quickly using hootsuite, what library wouldn’t?


        Kelly, David Allen. (2009). “How Your Library May Not Be Using Twitter But Should.”     Retrieved from: http://kellyd.com/2009/07/29/how-your-library-may-not-be-using-twitter-but-should/

Tagtmeier, Curt. Facebook vs. Twitter: Battle of the Social Network Stars. N.p.: Computers in Libraries, 2010. Web. 10 Mar. 2013. <http://www.infotoday.com/cilmag/sep10/Tagtmeier.shtml&gt;.


Young, Jeffery R. Embedded Librarian’ on Twitter Served as Information Concierge for Class. N.p.: n.p., 2011. Web. 10 Mar. 2013. <http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/embedded-librarian-on-twitter-served-as-information-concierge-for-class/30000&gt;.


Lesson #7 Social Networking The ‘Lois Weisberg’ Type

The Malcolm Gladwell article, Six Degrees of Lois Weisberg (1999), communicated the incredible importance of super connectors and their unique ability to affect real world transformations and change. In reading the article a number of social principles were communicated through entertaining stories of Lois Weisberg tied to important social research. It seems that the ‘Lois Weisberg type’ exhibit certain traits and functions increasing the fluidity and opportunity for important social connections.

From the article I extracted key characteristics that distinguish these social catalysts

  • They are likeable and are liked by many
  • They have diverse interests and are comfortable with people, making it easy for movement among different cultures and subcultures
  • They are able to reach out and connect isolated parts of society
  • If they meet you and you form a connection, you are added to their rolodex.

Also from the Article I found myself contemplating the following social principles

  • The quantity of connections are more useful than the quality and depth of the connection
  • It is the loose ‘weak’ connections that bear fruit

Knowing a ‘Lois Weisberg type’ has value

  • You are just one step away from their assorted and diverse connections

I had joined Linkedin but had not really explored the site, or its tools. This assignment presented an opportunity to revisit my Linkedin account. I was surprised that of my 11 connections I found I had two ‘Lois Weisberg types’ in the midst, one being my bother-in-law. In conversation with him about the use of his Linkedin account he exhibited many of the characteristics of Lois Weisberg, and the theories of social connection presented in the article. My brother in-law has over 300 Linkedin connections. He explained that all his connections have been through real in-person meetings, they are people he has met from across the globe and in many different industries and interests. He says when he visits an airport lounge, or takes a seat on an airplane, he never knows what the connection will be but he is bound to find one! As he explained his interests are varied and he rattled his list of food, travel, restaurants, music, gaming, reading, public speaking, swimming etcetera. In his job as a North American Sales Rep, my Brother-in-law explained how valuable his Linkedin connections have been, creating rich opportunities. Through a sales meeting he will identify a business’ need and often facilitate solutions from his connections. His sales are made by developing personal connections through his varied interests. He is able to offer valuable solutions and in doing so make a sale. He also explained that the connections furthest from his center that have the most value because those in his closest circles share the same values and experiences. He used the following example, “I can help anyone find a great dining experience in my own hometown but if they want information about a great dining experience in Seattle, Chicago, or Winnipeg I call on one of my connections in the geographical area to offer suggestions, supporting the theory that it is the weak connections that bear the best fruit.

Letting loose a social catalyst with the social media tools on offer through the SNS of Linkedin and it becomes easy to see the potential of the media for expediting connections. These connections are expressed with real-world effect quickly. Within Linkedin there are opportunities to join diverse groups, linking people among diverse interests. Linkedin also includes tools to recommend and endorse the skills and expertise of individuals. Users of Linkedin can classify, group and organize contacts based on commonalities such as location, tags, industry, company, and affiliations such as UWO alumni. Linkedin also offers e-mail options for communication. With tools for membership in professional and interest groups, for endorsement and recommendation, for organizing connections and e-mail communication it is easy to understand the impact a ‘Lois Weisberg type’ could have to increase fluidity of connections for mutual benefit and transformative connections. Linkedin as a professional social networking site is beholden to the ‘Lois Weisberg’ type to realise its mission: “Our mission is simple: connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful.”



ladwell, M. (1999, January 11). Six Degrees of Lois Wiesberg. The New Yorker. Retrieved March 4, 2013, from http://www.gladwell.com/1999/1999_01_11_a_weisberg.htm