Using Social Bookmarking Tools in the Library

Before I begin my thoughts and comments about the use of social bookmarking tools in a library, I first want to share an observation regarding the infantile behavior that seems to have overtaken the brains of those charged with christening sites on the web. Perhaps spurred on by my annoyance at having to insert an incessant number of periods everytime I want to properly address del.icio.us, I started to think about all of the other oddball site names and/or “cute little spelling tricks” (i.e. misspellings) employed on the Internet. Does it say anything about our own behavior using the web that the names of so many popular sites sound as if one is speaking to a 6-month old? Google, Bebo, Flickr, Friendster, iLike, Twitter and Woophy. Honestly, what is this all about? Remember when businesses had grownup names like IBM or General Electric or Bell Telephone or Standard Oil? Sophistication be damned, the web is a wave of hipness and modernity. And evidently the adolescent name-calling that goes with it.

[Rant over.] I’ve been using de.lic.io.u.s for awhile now, always believing its greatest contribution and/or feature to the social networking world is the ability to access one’s bookmarks anywhere. It was a stroke of genius by whoever thought this up. The benefits of bookmarks are really fairly limited when trapped on one particular computer.

Until this week however, I’d not really explored the sharing aspect of d.e.lic.io.us. I admit that I’m not big on sharing on the web. One might note that I don’t allow comments related to my blogs (though in the spirit of things, I’ve made an exception with this particular post). It likely says just as much about my own personality as any posting person that I too often just don’t care to hear what another person thinks about what I’ve blogged. I’ve really been disturbed in the past when I read comments to news stories or to other folks’ blogs. People can be truly vile and rude in what they share and I just care to avoid this. And besides, my blog entries aren’t really meant to provoke comment but more just a place for me to place my thoughts.

That said, I have found some benefit to the sharing of bookmarks in d.e.l.i.c.i.o.u.s. Thanks to the musings of a friend and fellow classmember, I found some good links to topics like clipart that I didn’t know about. Inspired, I changed some of my bookmarks previously marked “don’t share” to “share”. I experienced a little change of heart, I guess.

I’m still not, however, completely won over on the concept of tagging, at least not as it pertains to aiding in finding similar things. I think the real benefit of tagging is for the individual, i.e. you tag things in a way that makes sense to you. But therein lies the dilemma. Can something that by definition is supposed to be so personalized really cross over into the general public. I don’t necessarily believe that the two are mutually exclusive, but I’m holding off on my final thoughts on this until I see a bit more evidence. I think I fear group-think. Plus, we all have our own ways of organizing things (ever try to find something on an absent co-worker’s desk?). The beauty of tagging is that I can organize my bookmarks the way I want, but that doesn’t necessarily mean my system will make any sense to anyone else.

As far as using a social bookmarking tool like de.li.ci.ou.s. in my library, I can see an obvious use for it, especially in the creation of one place for different members of a department, team or group to collect and share relevant, interesting bookmarks. There are some nice examples to review and follow on that site that starts with a “d” (I’m tired of typing periods now). Go there and give it a try.

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