#13 Learn about tagging and discover Del.icio.us (a social bookmarking site).

Tagging is an open and informal method of categorizing that allows users to associate keywords with online content (webpages, pictures, & posts). Unlike library subject cataloging, which follows a strict set of guidelines (i.e.Library of Congress subject headings), tagging is completely unstructured and freeform, allowing users to create connections between data any way they want. You choose terms that are meaningful for you, so if “cooking” makes more sense to you than “cookery”, you’re free to use it!

Anyone who’s applied Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) knows that there are pages (and pages and pages…) of rules for how it is to be used. You are also required to use the exact terms specified. With a structured system like LCSH, the rules are essential to keep everyone using it consistently (more or less). LCSH is a taxonomy, a professionally developed system in which a controlled vocabulary is used to categorize materials.

A folksonomy is like a taxonomy, but without all the rules. Folksonomies grow from the tags that users apply. As you add your tags, they become part of the folksonomy. With some of the Web 2.0 tools, you can see the tags that other users have associated with similar items. You might even like some of them and decide to apply the tag to your own items.

Folksonomies are not hierarchical, meaning they lack the “Broader Term, Narrower Term, Related Term” structure often seen in taxonomies. Also, because they do not use a controlled vocabulary, terms can change quickly, there can be multiple tags for the same concept (library, libraries), and the same tag may be used for different concepts (try searching “cookies” in del.icio.us…).

In the past few weeks, we’ve already explored a few sites – Flickr and LibraryThing to name two –that allow users to take advantage of tagging and in Week 3 many even used a common tag (vermonts23things or vermontlibrarieslearn) to create an association between photos that we individually uploaded. This week we will take a look at a popular social bookmarking site called del.icio.us.

Del.icio.us is a web-based social bookmarking (social bookmarking = the open sharing of links) manager which allows you to bookmark a web page and add tags to categorize the bookmarks. It’s sort of like the “Bookmarks” or “Favorites” folders in Firefox or Internet Explorer. Only better. With del.icio.us, you never have to remember which computer you saved the link on. This is ideal for anyone who uses more than one computer. By the way, this includes library patrons using the internet who don’t own a computer. Helping them set up a del.icio.us account would give them a way to consistently access their favorite websites.

Many users find that the real power of del.icio.us is in the social network aspect, which allows you to see how other users have tagged similar links and also discover other websites that may be of interest to you. You can think of it as peering into another users’ filing cabinet, but with this powerful bookmarking tool each user’s filing cabinet helps to build an expansive knowledge network. As bookmarks are added and tagged, a folksonomy emerges. Clicking a tag in del.icio.us shows you all the bookmarks with that tag. And in the same way that using a subject heading can narrow a catalogue search, using a folksonomy tag can save you from sorting through 2 million Google hits by showing you what other people have found useful on that topic.

For this Thing, you are asked to take a look at del.icio.us and learn about this popular bookmarking tool. But first, here’s a little video from our friends at Common Craft:



1. Search del.icio.us for something you’re interested in. Check out some of the tags people have used for that topic. Try the same search in Google or another Internet search engine. In your blog, tell us what you thought. How do the results compare? Were there any that you didn’t expect? Did you find any tags that were confusing or especially useful?

2. Set up an account on del.icio.us. Add a few websites and add your own tags to each of your links. If you like del.icio.us and want to easily add bookmarks to your account, you can put buttons on your browser toolbar. Instructions are available for Internet Explorer and Firefox. Check out this part of the FAQ to see how to integrate del.icio.us with your blog, website or Facebook account.

3. Take a look around del.icio.us using the Vermont’s 23 Thing’s del.icio.us page that was created for this exercise. Note: In this account you will find lots of resources that have been highlighted or used throughout the course of the Learning 2.0 program. You can keep up to date with that’s added by subscribing to the RSS feed.

4. Create a blog post about your experience and thoughts about this tool. How can libraries take advantage of social bookmarking sites? Can you see the potential of this tool for research assistance? Or just as an easy way to create bookmarks that can be accessed from anywhere?

Would you like to read more about del.icio.us and other social bookmarking tools? Go to Vermont’s 23 Things del.icio.us page and look for entries under the tag headings “del.icio.us” and “bookmarking.”

Libraries that del.icio.us (d=that library’s del.icio.us page)

La Grange Park Public Library (d)
Lansing Public Library (d)
Maui Community College Library (d)
McMaster University Library (d)
Menasha Public Library (d)
San Mateo Public Library (d)
Seldovia Public Library (d)
Thomas Ford Memorial Library (d)

Further Readings (optional!)

Further Exploration (optional!)
While del.icio.us may be the most well known social bookmarking service, it is not alone. Several other services, such as Ma.gnolia, Reddit, Stumble Upon, Digg, and Simpy, provide different options for your social bookmarking needs. Look into some of these alternatives and see how they might better serve you or the library.

9 responses to “

  1. My favorite social bookmarking site is
    Furl. Just wanted to add it to the list for for further exploration.


  2. I really wanted to fall in love with del.icio.us but it hasn’t happened. I’ve tried it several times, looking for it to prove itself to me. It is messy and there was just way too much of a yield for “vacation/travel.” One redeeming feature was the #ct, at least I could narrow my search to those recommended sites with a very large number. I toggled back and forth between the features, but honestly found it just too cluttered and vague. I was surprised at the words that fell under the subject. Some seemed rather “arbitrary” or should I say that I was surprised to see what made it to that list. Did China and Japan appear because they are the countries that are most frequently visited?

  3. I thought Delicious would be a really handy thing, but the instructions are very confusing. I’ll keep at it. Maybe.

  4. I got an account and got one site tagged. I will try to add another one that I like later. I actually found a more useful site on quilting with Google, but it is a commercial site. Delicious put me to free sites of quilt patterns, but seems more random in what is there. It’s more about what some people like and less about what companies want you to like or buy.

  5. couldn’t get the tutorial video to work

  6. It seems that we are having to sign up alot of accounts putting our information out there in a lot of different places. It is starting to make me a little nervous, and I don’t think Im going to open a delicous account

  7. Hi Heather. The video is all fixed. Thanks for letting me know. Enjoy!

  8. Pingback: Vermont’s 23 Things – Lesson 8 – Tagging and Twitter « Vermont Department of Libraries

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