Newsweek Talks Tagging


Library Stuff points to a
response by Gary Price about a
Newsweek article
on folksonomies, as used by Flickr,, and

Are these the next big thing in indexing the Internet? First cataloging gets renamed metadata, and now keywords are folksonomies. What's next for librarians, er, information scientists?


Gary brilliantly points out the common misconceptions about librarian subject cataloging in the Newsweek article. (Multiple 650 fields is obviously the norm).

However, let us not forget the evolution of terms through librarian committees and the criticisms of racism, sexism, etc., from those like Sandy Berman. Not to mention the time delay in coming to agreement over those terms.

Moreover, for those who aren't in those which-subject-should-we-use meetings, do the dialogues about the terms get transferred to the average person (librarian patron) who uses a library catalog? I think not.

If tagging is truly the opposite of search (ala Newsweek) then we should expect the great masses to tag things in a simple way, maybe an overly broad way. They will tag tons of stuff "computers" or "software" and tag very few things "search strategies."

So it may not be the "folks" in general who make the system work, but the few great individuals who make a point to tag things with unique, maybe even trendy terms. I want to call them "experts" but maybe they are just hip. They get it.

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