[OPEN-ILS-GENERAL] Feature inquiry

Jonathan Rochkind jonathan at dnil.net
Tue Oct 7 18:57:35 EDT 2008

I think the only point at which a user would actually be motivated to  
tag something is when they are organizing citations for their own  
use, one way or another. When they are saving a citation to their own  
'book bag', or to making a request (saving it to their request list),  
etc.  By and large, people don't tag just for the enjoyment of  
tagging, or to provide useful query words for others. They tag to  
achieve some personal goal. "personal value precedes network value”.  

So on the one hand, I'm skeptical in general of how much our users  
are going to use tags. I think most experiments so far with tagging  
in library catalogs have not achieved much use from users.   Perhaps  
it should quite rightly not be a priority for the Evergreen  
development. Are users asking for it? Would users use it? (Sometimes  
users end up using something they didn't even know to ask for,  
certainly---when it fills a need they have, but they didn't realize  
to ask for it to fill that need. What need does tagging fill for the  

To make tagging useful, I think you need two things. First you need  
to identify and fill the "personal value".  How will the ability to  
tag help the individual person doing the tagging?  If you've got a  
'bookbag' feature that is useful enough that your users are actually  
using it, and they are storing so much stuff in it that they might  
have trouble keeping track of what they're stored there, you might be  
already there. (How much use of the bookbag and what sorts of use is  
Georgia seeing?). But if that's going to be the personal value that  
motivates tagging, you've got to let the user apply the tags at the  
moment of personal use. You can't say, oh, you can tag, but only  
after you've checked out the book.  Nobody's going to go back to the  
catalog to find a book they already checked out to add a tag. Users  
find books in the catalog _before_ they've checked them out!

Then once you've got the personal value there, if you want to achieve  
the network value, that's when aggregating tags accross multiple  
institutions matters. But if users have got no motivation to tag, no  
personal value, they aren't going to do it in the first place. In  
that case, those worried about tags 'polluting' the catalog don't  
need to, because there aren't going to be any tags there anyway.


On Oct 7, 2008, at 11:46 AM, Deanna Frazee wrote:

> This prompts another thought.  If I eventually am persuaded to allow
> tagging (and if I persuade my staff that it is worthwhile), can we  
> have
> tagging only by someone who has actually checked out the item?  One of
> the problems with Amazon, for example, is that anyone can go in and  
> tag
> an item.  Granted, many people will not abuse this, but not  
> everyone has
> scruples.
> Another thing that would make it more palatable is if you could have a
> list of disallowed words or something that alerts library staff to
> disallowed words.  I'm thinking here more of words like "great" or
> "stupid."  As tags, these are so subjective as to be useless.  Yes, I
> know, this is still going against the wisdom of the masses.  The Who
> Wants to Be a Millionaire audience did not always know the answer,
> though.
> Deanna Frazee
> Killeen City Library System
> (254) 501-8995
> (254) 501-7704 (fax)
> dfrazee at ci.killeen.tx.us
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: open-ils-general-bounces at list.georgialibraries.org
> [mailto:open-ils-
>> general-bounces at list.georgialibraries.org] On Behalf Of David Fiander
>> Sent: Tuesday, October 07, 2008 10:25 AM
>> To: Evergreen Discussion Group
>> Subject: Re: [OPEN-ILS-GENERAL] Feature inquiry
>> Academic research has show that "wisdom of the masses" does work in
>> certain specific kinds of settings. Librarything, google, delicious,
>> and the "ask the audience" lifeline on Who Wants to be a Millionaire
>> all demonstrate that it works on a more pragmatic way.
>> The problem is that there have to be "masses" involved in being wise,
>> and "the library staff" don't count as the masses. This is why
>> Librarything for Libraries works: it's taking a REAL mass of book
>> lovers and using that as the base collection of tags and ratings for
>> the library catalogue, rather than trying to create a new collection
>> of tags from scratch in a small community (it doesn't matter how big
>> your library is, the set of users that will tag is small compared to
>> the LT community).
>> -David
>> On Tue, Oct 7, 2008 at 11:12 AM, Jason Etheridge
> <jason at esilibrary.com>
>> wrote:
>>> On Tue, Oct 7, 2008 at 10:54 AM, Deanna  Frazee
>>> <dfrazee at ci.killeen.tx.us> wrote:
>>>> Wisdom of the masses....that's where my problem lies.  I don't
> believe
>> it exists :)
>>> Wisdom of the masses is the main way that relevancy in Google works.
>>> Except, instead of tagging, it's linking.
>>> --
>>> Jason Etheridge
>>>  | VP, Community Support and Advocacy
>>>  | Equinox Software, Inc. / The Evergreen Experts
>>>  | phone:  1-877-OPEN-ILS (673-6457)
>>>  | email:  jason at esilibrary.com
>>>  | web:  http://www.esilibrary.com

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