Archive for June, 2007

Folksnomies

June 25, 2007

This week’s reading is mainly about folksonomies and classifications. In Kroski’s article “The Hive Mind: Folksonomies and User-Based Tagging”, the author pointed out the advantages and drawbacks of folksonomies. I listed all these factors as the following:

Advantage Drawback
Folksonomies are inclusive Folksonomies have no synonym control
Folksonomies are current Folksonomies have a lack of precision
Folksonomies offer discovery Folksonomies lack hierarchy
Folksonomies are non-binary Folksonomies have a “basic level” problem
Folksonomies are democratic and self-moderating Folksonomies have a lack of recall
Folksonomies follow “desire lines” Folksonomies are susceptible to “gaming”
Folksonomies offer insight into user behavior
Folksonomies engender community
Folksonomies offer a low cost alternative
Folksonomies offer usability
Folksonomies is futile

Kroski gave further discussion about all these pros and cons in the article and the factor I am most interested in is “hierarchy”. This factor is also discussed in all other readings in different formats, such as subject heading or hierarchical structure. Quintatelli mentioned that folksnomies are a flat space of keywords and it is hard to think of real people crafting complex structures of tags to describe their objects (posts, photos, etc) or objects from other sites. In my point of view, most people using tagging are not experts in the library field who could setup the hierarchical structure properly and choose the correct subject heading. They just randomly pick up the word they think best describing the content. Therefore, it brought up the next issue, how to form a good hierarchical structure or choose suitable subject headings. Our librarians, as information professionals, and millions users who never had or had little trainings in information sciences, could possibly work together and make “folksnomies” better. Carol Ou discussed some ideas in the article “White-Paperish Thing (about distributed classification)” and “folksonomy? ethnoclassfication? libraries? wha?”. Ou said “providing authorized subject headings does represent a bibliographic ideal, however, and one that is intended to aid user search. To this end, catalogers have been guided by principles outlining a certain preferred specificity in the use of subject headings.” and “we figured patrons would want to participate because their participation in classifying these electronic journals would allow us to dynamically generate lists of journals that might be relevant to their own work.” Liz Lawley said “Describing things well is hard, and often context-specific.” So it is possible to tie librarians and patrons together and construct a better hierarchical structure and choose suitable subject headings. In Sam H. Kome’s paper, the author pointed out that today’s subject enthusiasts’ classification efforts indicate that users in a collaborative computing environment can create valuable metadata. If librarians use their expertise, and join in these subject enthusiasts, it is possible that current folksnomies could become a valuable electronic thesaurus in the future.

Bookmark cases

June 20, 2007

Because most cases in this week are based on del.icio.us, I’d like to discuss them together. Del.icio.us provides a uniform platform for all these libraries, so users could easily identify different functions on the webpage and use those functions. That’s the beauty of using consistent interface. However, a big problem I identified on all library based on Del.icio.us platform is that they have way too many tags. Also too many synonymies and ambiguous terms are used in their tags. For example, MCC library used “book” and “books” as its tags. I don’t really know what the difference is and only 1 article belongs to “book” and five articles belong to “books”. Lansing Public Library has a tag called “800”. What does this mean? Obviously, all these problems will cause confusion and readers might finally give up.

PennTags provides the most used tags on top of the page which helps users locate some popular articles. The best function provided on this site is that they actually tell you whether the requested page is available or not. In contrast, Del.icio.us does not have this function. For instance, if you use seldovia.library’s bookmarks and click “KPB Parcel Search”, you will get an error “the page cannot be found”. So I think it is very useful to tell the availability of the bookmark.

social bookmarking (week 7 readings)

June 20, 2007

In this weeks’s reading, the topic is mainly about tagging and social bookmarking. In Hammond et al.’s article, they introduced the basic concept in social bookmarking and gave a brief introduction on history. Also they discussed why use tag and some issues related to tagging. Finally, authors proposed that the social bookmarking could be used at the academic setting because the current technology not only stores user-supplied tags, but also provides citation metadata terms which could possibly be used on electronic publishing. There is the second article on this topic “social bookmarking tools (II)”, but I’ve not got a chance to read it. I believe it’s going to talk more on the application of social bookmarking.

Rainie’s article’s about tags. He discussed how taggings work, who taggers are and why use tagging. He also identified the trend of using tagging and thought that tagging sites were getting more popular. In his interview with Weinberger, he pointed out some problems associated with tagging. These problems are also discussed in Hammond et al.’s article, such as lack of standard and ambiguous tags.

Mathes discussed an interesting term “Folksonomy” which is the combination of “folk” and “taxonomy”. He pointed out that an important aspect of a folksonomy is that is comprised of terms in a flat namespace: that is, there is no hierarchy, and no direct specified parent-child or sibling relationships between these terms. So these folksonomies are the set of terms that a group of users used. Therefore, these terms might be meaningful to their owners or a small group of people in a limited field, but other people won’t really understand what it’s about. As a result, there are some problems related to folksonomy, such as ambiguity or synonym. At the end, the author talked about the potential research on tagging, including quantitative and qualitative tag analysis. These researches could help us use the strength of tagging and apply it in different fields.

Udell mentioned in his article that tagging is very powerful and it helps people organize their blogs and articles. However, the example he used also demonstrated the serious problem. Piquepaille said that he won’t be able to collect a full archieve of his posts even using keyword searching, but after using tags, he could open del.icio.us and get the posting. The problem is if you write the article, but you still could not find it, then who’s able find it? Same as tags, you are the only person know what the tag is, who else could possibly know? So hopefully, the future of tagging could follow the way Udell described, “self-interested use leads to collective abundance.”

Hollenback introduced a new expended del.icio.us, nutr.itio.us. The most useful feature of nutr.itio.us is that it knows the most common del.icio.us tags associated with whatever page you are attempting to bookmark. He mentioned that when you tag a paper, nutr.itio.us helps you by allowing you to pick from the tags you have previously used. I think this is a great feature because it potentially reduces the ambiguity and provides a relatively fixed vocabulary. In addition, he discussed some others new applications, such as extisp.icio.us and cocoal.icio.us, and they are all very useful tools.

Wiki case study

June 13, 2007

The Bull Run Library: At the very beginning, I didn’t think it’s a wiki because its appearance looks like a regular webpage. After I read the URL pbwiki.com, I realized that it’s a wiki on a public wiki platform. But, honestly, I still don’t think this is a real wiki because it doesn’t allow people to input, or at least I have no idea how to participate. In addition, there is an archive section on the right hand side which makes it more like a blog. So I think the creator should reconsider the wiki site and make some changes in order to attract some external contributions.

Butler WikiRef: This wiki looks very amateurish in terms of layout and text, but it does provide some wiki functions to invite people to participate. Anyone could add or delete contents as they wish. All entries are organized alphabetically on this wiki, so users could easily locate a specific entry. One thing should be improved is to provide search function. I could not find a search box on this site (I am not sure if I missed it), so I would not be able to find information if the term is not in the directory.

Ohio University libraries Biz Wiki:  This wiki uses mediawiki software which is also used by Wikipedia. Using the popular software might help promoting itself because most people will feel comfortable when using a familiar tool. However, users need an account to participate on this wiki, so it restricts the freedom of adding or deleting contents.

Princeton Public Library: This library set up the book lovers wiki last year for summer reading club for adults. It seems they had a huge success because they had almost 200 reviews. They encouraged readers to participate, so most reviews were from readers instead of staff. The drawback of this wiki is because this wiki is only associated with summer reading club, it becomes useless in the rest of the year. I noticed that the revision on this wiki ended on Sep 20, 2006, so they have to promote it again this summer. Princeton Public Library should consider how to improve this wiki and add some new topics, so users could come to visit regularly.

SJCPLSubjectGuides: This wiki shares same strength and weakness as Ohio Biz Wiki. I really like the interface and functions, but sadly I have no rights to modify contents.

USC: I don’t not think this is a wiki, although it’s powered by PmWiki. I checked PmWiki’s website and it states that PmWiki pages look and act like normal web pages, except they have an “Edit” link that makes it easy to modify existing pages and add new pages into the website. Because USC restricts the access to “Edit” function, regular users would have no rights to edit. Obviously they use this software to create a regular website instead of a wiki. In addition, the blog on this site is not created by using PmWiki, they just provided a link to WordPress.

Wyoming Authors Wiki: I like this wiki because it clearly states its purpose on the homepage “The Wyoming Authors Wiki is a clearinghouse for information on book authors who’ve lived in Wyoming or who write about Wyoming”. The functions provided on this wiki are powerful. Users could search the wiki or browse by author, county or genre. Very detailed help information is provided on this wiki. Well done.

Wiki, a useful tool at the library

June 11, 2007

In my previous post, I mentioned that Wikipedia is not as bad as some profs said. Angela’s article backed up my points. She suggested that wiki could be used at the library setting as a tool to help manage knowledge. She pointed out that using a wiki was simple and straightforward. Users do not need extensive knowledge on web design or server configuration. Almost anyone who has Internet access could use wiki, even you are an elementary school student. She used Wagner’s idea “Wikis are a conversational technology, so they are effective when used for ad hoc problems with decentralized knowledge source.” and recommended that wikis could perfectly fit into a library as knowledge management tool. One potential use she proposed is to use wiki in library reference service. I totally agree with her. People who do not trust Wikipedia are mostly because they think the source of information is not trustable. So if we build up our own wiki at a library and librarians are in charge of selecting, organizing and verifying information, people might think it’s authorized. For example, she suggested that all of the librarians who teach library instruction classes could contribute to a library instruction wiki specifically tailored for their community of used. In my point of view, if librarians maximize wikis’ function at the library, our patrons would appreciate the usefulness of wikis and enjoy using it.

Wikipedia, not bad as some profs said

June 11, 2007

I’ve heard about Wikipedia long time ago and have used it many times. Although, Wikipedia is not recommended for academic purpose, I still use it as my starting point on my paper or project when I have no clue where to start. As Stacy pointed out in the article that Wikipedia has more than 1 million entries and Encyclopedia Britannica only has 120 thousand entries. Honestly, I never did any research on Wikipedia before I read Stacy’s article, and I was shocked that Wikipedia was so well organized and did such a fine job. I really like the words Wales said “To me, the key thing is getting it right. I don’t care if they’re a high-school kid or a Harvard professor.” I think this goal is very realistic. Everyone has his/her own strength and people could provide authorized information on a specific subject even they dropped out from high school. So I think that we should not simply oppose using Wikipedia, especially at schools and libraries. In contrast, we, as future information professionals, should consider some other better solutions, and take advantage of this useful tool. For instance, we could contribute the information on Wikipedia and make sure that readers could find correct and authorized information. Also we could teach users how to analyze the information, verify sources and filter out wrong messages. So if we could slightly adjust our angle of view, Wikipedia is not as bad as some profs said in the class.

Customized RSS feed – a wonderful tool

June 8, 2007

A proper layout and organization of webpage will be very helpful to visitors and it’s also true to RSS feed. RSS feed provides alert of new message, postings, or materials at the library and is very useful for researchers, students, and general user. I went to visit the Seattle Public Library’s website and examine its RSS options. Unfortunately the layout is not good and lack of visual impact. Because most people surfing online hardly read the text, most of them try to peek at the headline and several images in order to locate the proper information. There is not commonly used orange-color RSS icon on the page, so that visitors might not notice that RSS feed service is provided.

The RSS feeds service provided at EBSCO seems pretty good. It provides a customized RSS feed which is based on your search function and alerts researchers every month. I think this function is very useful for researchers who want to keep trace articles on similar topics or certain subjects. And ProQuest offers the similar service. It allows customers to integrate the latest articles in a particular field into the corresponding e-resources page. The RSS service provided at Engineering Village 2 does the same thing, and updates the information weekly.

As a user, I think the customized RSS feed is much better than the general feed because I could control the content received and the information is more relevant.

Feed2JS

June 4, 2007

I tried Feed2JS but it did not work as I expected. I am not sure if my expectation is correct, but I thought that’s the way it should go. I copied and pasted my RSS feed to Feed2JS and got the generated code. Because my blog does not allow me to embed Javascript, I had to try my UWO personal website. I inserted the code into my HTML file and the page did show my blog posts. However, after I updated my blog, nothing happened on my UWO personal site even I refreshed it many times. My expectation was when my blog’s updated, the information on another page should also be updated. In that case, libraries could use it to display current information and keep all posts up to date. Please let me know if I did anything wrong.

week 5 readings

June 4, 2007

After reading four articles assigned for this week, I suddenly had a strange thought. At the very beginning, I totally agreed with all authors’ judgment that users could use RSS aggregator to subscribe RSS feeds and read all new information and updated contents in one single place. However, after I read this same concept four times, I started to think if there is any drawback. Obviously, nothing is perfect. Any technology has its flip side. Based on my personal experience, I realized that RSS also had some flaws.

Firstly, I never used web-based RSS aggregators, so had no comment on that. But I am using a desktop RSS aggregator, which collects all updated information and highlight the blog name as sooner as it’s updated. Sometimes, I was overwhelmed. Because I subscribed many bolg sites, everyday, I have hundreds new posts. They are too many to read in 30 minutes. I am not addicted to blogs, so I won’t spend hours reading them.

Secondly, even I spend time reading those new posts, but finally I could not tell the source where a specific story or article is from. So it really hurts the credential of the information. Because I subscribed different blogs, personal, newspaper, and library, some sources are more authoritative than others.

Thirdly, the RSS aggregator only updates the new content. If the old post has been deleted by the blogger, users could still read the old one on his/her computer. It makes me believe that RSS is not a real synchronous mechanism, because it only checks the new entry.

As a result, I think when libraries implement this technology, they should be aware these issues and try to avoid them. For example, the library could give a very clear title to its article in order to explicitly indicate the source, or update a reasonable number of new posts without overwhelming readers.