I’ve borrowed the idea of a remaindered links list from Kottke. The way it works is I pull the feed out of my del.icio.us account and display the latest items on the remaindered links page of this site using a script. Del.icio.us is a very organic set of bookmarks and annotations, but I’ve grown very attached to the system and the process.
Firefox nicely integrates with a del.icio.us extension to facilitate the bookmarking process, keeping it all highly easy to manage and learn, and relatively easy to adopt into my usual “web-centric” patterns.
I’ve been thinking a little about the use of user-defined tagging and the incredible usefulness of the del.icio.us approach to community resource/link pooling.
I’m finding some incredibly useful resources simply by periodically monitoring the common tags of areas that I’m interested in (by RSS or by browsing) and by periodically lurking over the pool of links that other users are submitting. My question is…Have any libraries or organizations begun to implement any similar sort of community link pools?
I think a tremendous opportunity might exist for a library (I’m thinking primarily academic a this point, but not exclusively) if we could devise or make use of a similar system that would let users define for themselves their own tagging and organization structures — structures that make sense either to themselves as individuals, or in relation to their own respective communities of interest, classes, geographic regions, etc.,.
If we could support the process by suggesting tags (or headings) and intelligently offering items of related interest back to them (using these tags, our more traditional catalogue tags, and the “245 other people have also bookmarked this resource” information tag), I think we might be on to something that begins to cut around the rigid structures of our own catalogues, and the “no records found” but “it’s gotta be there” phenomenon which affects everytone from time to time.
There also seems to be a stronger element of browseability with a system like del.icio.us. Very few libraries seem to have made a smooth transition from the traditional act of browsing a shelf containing paper or physical objects, to the browsing of a shelf comprised mostly of digital objects linked one to another. Part of this is likely due to the rule-set of our library classification schemes (which don’t get me wrong, they obviously has their place), but it does runs contrary to other community-centred schemes such as those which have developed around things like the IMDB and the Open Directory Project.
Even the controversial Wikipedia clearly seems to have merit as something defined by the community at large to meet their needs as opposed to a system that’s designed by a thrid party to anticipate their needs. I’m not sure a system like communal tagging is really a replacement for anything we’re presently doing, but I do think their might be merit to it as an enhancement and an alternative to the traditional modes of discovery and browsing that you find in most catalogues and library websites.
Tangential thoughts, flowing out at the end of the day. I’m going through a period where I’m more inclined to buy the idea that “the user isn’t broken” and that it’s us within the library profession that may be in need of some repair. Keeping the user’s view in mind is certainly a challenge to myself that I’m going to try and keep at the front and centre of my own work. I haven’t any answers to the repair process, but the list of questions I have continues to grow. Not a bad thing, really.