Archive for the ‘brain tagging’ Tag

Information overload, See Personal information management

Personal information management LCSH
I am starting to struggle a bit with information overload (“physician heal thyself” I hear you cry, or rather, “librarian manage thine own surfeit of information”). I have this drive to be completist, read every post in every Cam23 blog, every tweet and every link from a tweet or post. I’m just about managing this but it means I spend a lot of time thinking “ooh I read something about that… somewhere…” without being able to recall exactly where. I need to tag my thoughts.

Thing 8 is tagging. I need to declare an interest. I’m a cataloguer. My very first job as a graduate trainee was 50% cataloguing and that percentage has only gone up in my library career since then. Actually, I’ve found this Thing hardest to write about because it is so closely related to what I spend the majority of my time thinking about/doing.

The Clay Shirky article was interesting. I’ve read some of his stuff before (though obviously can’t actually recall very much about it due to lack of thought tags). I do think he’s setting up a false dichotomy though. He speaks about classification being related to the physical need for books to be located somewhere and there being restrictions on space. Yes. But classification isn’t the same as LCSH or the same as controlled vocabulary more generally. They do different things. The way in which he talks about what a “professional cataloguer” would think or feel is monumentally irritating (and inaccurate).

The simple answer is that tagging is great. It works brilliantly in Flickr or blog posts and, in a more complex form, what Shirky is describing is happening in Amazon’s “people who bought this, also bought…” recommendations and in Google searching. And we all know how successful these discovery tools have been. There is real power in crowdsourcing (if you have a big enough crowd). The Ann Arbor example shows how tags could work in a catalogue. But it’s not an either/or and I don’t know many cataloguers who think it is.

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