Throughout this unit, my experiences with user-generated content (UGC) to gather information (especially using Trip Advisor) has opened my eyes to a world of personal organisation, communication and sharing that I never thought possible. The term ‘folksonomy’ has now become a regular expression in my vocabulary, in that ‘people use their own vocabulary and add explicit meaning which may come from an inferred understanding of the information/object’ (Vander Wal, 2007, cited in Pirmann, 2012). Basically, it reflects a natural language.
In addition, I was impressed with how Spiteri (2012) used the term ‘social discovery system’ to describe a visually engaging Web 2.0 interface with built-in social networking (Serials Solutions, 2012). This being an online platform that supports UGC (ratings, reviews, tagging etc) whereby library users can:
- establish a social space where they can share and discuss ideas/interests
- connect via the catalogue
- make recommendations, and
- classify items with their own tags (reflective of their language and needs)
I love this idea of an online platform space that has the potential to transform a library catalogue from a static inventory to a social space where people can interact with collections and each other as they would in a physical library. One that is designed to encourage user contribution and participation. A vision I can see for my school library catalogue that reflects the information needs and terminology of the users, rather than the library staff.
Although, I am aware that problems may arise through the use of this ‘social discovery system’. The uncontrolled nature of the UGC could turn out to be essentially chaotic. An imprecision and/or ambiguity of the content could emerge, for example, as users apply the same tag in different ways. This is something that well developed controlled vocabularies and name authorities have effectively perfected in the past.
I agree with Mathes (2004) in that ‘transforming the creation of explicit metadata for resources from an isolated, professional activity into a shared, communicative activity by users is an important development that should be explored and considered for future systems development’. I hope to transform the user experiences in my library by creating a ‘social discovery system’ that involves these users of information more actively through the use of UGC.
Mathes, A. (2004). Folksonomies – cooperative classification and communication through shared metadata. Retrieved from http://www.adammathes.com/academic/computer-mediated-communication/folksonomies.html
Pirmann, C. (2012). Tags in the catalogue: Insights from a usability study of LibraryThing for Libraries, Library Trends, 61(1), 234-147. Retrieved from: http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/library_trends/v061/61.1.pirmann.html
Spiteri, L. F. & Tarulli, L.(2012). Social Discovery Systems in Public Libraries: If We Build Them, Will They Come? Library Trends 61(1), 132-147. Retrieved from: http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/library_trends/v061/61.1.spiteri.html