blogs, folksonomies and tagging – get going!

At the recent “Berlin 5” meeting on Open Access I noted sadly that I was the only person blogging the meeting. Normally there are many bloggers at the meetings I go to so I (and everyone else) can choose what they blog. At berlin5 I felt it was important to show the way so I hacked some notes together for many of the talks – generally typing scattered phrases during the talks (and with even more typos than normal). As a result I spent more time than I would have likely simply noting some of the presentations. In any case it’s not a very good approach since you don’t know what the speaker is going to say and often run out of puff during dense slides. You know them (“Title XVIII chapter 123 of the EC, says …”). Mind you, it isn’t easy to blog my presentations synchronously either…
I made ca. 15-20 posts about Berlin-5. 2-3 before I went, 2 (so far) afterwards and about 12 during the meeting. Many of the latter are simple shorthand notes of speakers with little or no comment. So for example I have copied as many of Alma Swan’s words as possible to give those not there an idea. I can’t type well or fast so it’s limited. And there are no links.
I’m writing this in the hope that librarians, funders and policy makers will be more adventurous and start their own blogs. An increasing number of slides at berlin5 mentioned blogs, wikis, folksonomies, etc. The best way to understand these is to DO them, not read other people’s.
There are of course some top-class blogs from staff working for publishers – Nature and PLoS lead the way. They actually tell us how people in the organization think, work, interact. (Contrast the more formalised magazine-like blogs on some publishers which are often written by third parties, sometimes recruited from the blogosphere). And there are some excellent librarian blogs. But I am sure there is a niche for “DGXIII inmate”, “bewildered at RCUK/STFC”, etc. In Open Access we need more than just Peter Suber, Stevan Harnad commenting. They have clear formats and agendas which need complementing. There is a huge need for investigative blogging to reveal the spread and the problems with OA.
The digital library needs metadata and in C21 much of this should be done elsewhere than the library. Two main methods are text-mining and tagging (folksonomies). Here I’ll look at the latter.
If you have just set up a blog, no one will know about it. It can be quite dispiriting. There are many legitimate ways to advertise, including tagging. There are sites such as Technorati which visit all blogs (ca. 100, 000, 000 exist) and index and link to them.
One thing that Technorati looks for is the tags in a blog.
If you write a blog you can add tags which give an idea of the content. Tags are common in many systems such as and Connotea where communities expect other members to use tags to find similar contributions. There is NO controlled vocabulary – you could use anything (though it’s best to stick to ANSI alphanumerics). If you don’t understand social computing, this is a good place to start. It doesn’t matter what you do – it won’t break anything. And there is no “right” or “wrong” way to do things – it is whether it works. So for this meeting I chose “berlin5”. It’s natural and I assumed that of the 100-200 delegates that others would choose something similar. Let’s assume they choose “berlin open access” (you can have multiple tags, of course).
In a formal metadata system this is a nightmare, but in the blogosphere it’s trivial. If twenty people read both blogs one of them will probably post a comment ” Petermr is using berlin5 – why don’t you add that as well” (or the other way round). So the two of start to converge. No one tells us to – it’s just obviously a good thing to do.
So here is the list of posts about berlin5 (there are 18). There are 3 which are nothing to do with OA but they are easily ignored as they are old.
As I say it’s a pity that there isn’t anyone else (although you we needn’t have finished)
Let’s look at a more distant meeting – electronic theses and dissertations at Uppsala. If you follow:
You’ll find 17 posts, mainly by me but not all:

ETD Policies, Strategies and Initiatives in…

Das, Anup Kumar and Sen, B. K. and Dutta, Chaitali (2007) ETD Policies, Strategies and Initiatives in India: a Critical Appraisal. In Proceedings 10th International Symposium on Electronic Theses and Dissertations (ETD2007), Uppsala, Sweden.

So now I have made two important contacts – the authors of the article and also EPrints for LIS. That’s just because we both used etd2007 in out posts.
But now let’s look at the really hectic end of the scale, www2007:
303 posts! and although the meeting was 5 months ago, posts mentioning it are still coming in, such as Yet another semantic tagging application in Jakoblog — Das Weblog von Jakob Voß
More, because I have added this link to my blog, Jakoblog will get notified. Technorati keeps count of how often every blog mentions others. E-LIS has 251 other blogs which link to it; I have about 120 (“the authority”), Jakoblog has 37. If I put Jakoblog on my blogroll it would increase to 38. (A popular aggregator/multiple_author blog like ScienceBlogs has nearly 10, 000, Bora’s Blog around the clock has 700, Dorothea Salo’s Caveat Lector · has Authority: 199; My colleague Andrew Walkingshaw‘s Brighten the Corners, has 28. Of course these numbers are about as useful as citation statistics!
The serious message is that if you want to go out and get noticed in the blogosphere you have to get noticed! Tagging is a good way of finding out who is thinking along the same lines as you. Then link to them. They’ll often link back. Aggregators will include all of you, and so on.
So, OA colleagues – and hopefully OD colleagues as well – get out there! Yes, you will reach some people via conventional scholarly publications. But your publications will be noticed much more if they are blogged. Das, Sen and Gutta should get some more readers because I have blogged it. They’ll get me anyway, and that’s because E-LIS blogged it. And so it grows…

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2 Responses to blogs, folksonomies and tagging – get going!

  1. Jakob says:

    You wrote: “More, because I have added this link to my blog, Jakoblog will get notified.” This is true and it may happen that the author will come and see what you have written and even leave a comment – how often do you experience this with publications on paper? Conventional scholarly publications are so old-fashioned, slow, impractical, and inefficient. If you do your research for the progress of knowledge (and not only for your career) then you should better tag your notes at a social tagging/bookmarking service, write your thoughts in your blog, archive your summary-paper at a publication server, provide your data and sourcecode in data and software libraries, discuss you opinion in mailing lists, compile your research into other people’s work in wikis etc…. this is science in the 21st century!

  2. Firstly, compliments for your presentation, it was great!!
    Secondly, I was at Berlin 5, blogging the meeting, so you should feel a little less sad… 🙂 Our blog is in Italian, but if you want to take a look: .
    Please let us know what you think…
    Thanks again

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