del.icio.us et al

I had a rather grinding day today, mostly due to the need to frantically run around from meeting to meeting, but partially due to feeling a little demeaned by events at one of those meetings. One tries to keep up with things and be tech-savvy and whatnot, but I have learned that at my current library, I still haven’t earned my dues. Mostly, that means that I spend much of my time in meetings with my head down and attempting not to mention what I know or what I’ve done. Once in a while, I still get excited or annoyed enough not to keep silent, but it is pretty rare. The few times when I have mentioned something I’ve done, people ignore it or outright accuse me of tooting my own horn. Today, though, my lack of shameless workplace self-promotion backfired as I sat in a meeting and listened to a project I’d worked really hard on be ridiculed (though I was decidedly not the object of ridicule). I suppose that if I had made a bigger deal of it myself, I could have prevented said ridicule entirely. This whole meme has been done to death by librarian bibliobloggers–generations, shameless self-promotion, the treatment of women in a man’s tech world–but it still rankles.

Anyway, getting to my main topic… I am completely and wholeheartedly addicted to del.icio.us. We are a Gallup poll household, and every time I get a survey where it asks me my feelings on whether I can imagine a world without this product/company, I always think about how bizarre that is–yet, I can honestly say that I can no longer imagine a world without del.icio.us. It is my memory, my personal database, my communication with the outside and inside world. I once had a gut feeling that something was wrong with someone in my network because of the total lack of posts and no concurrent library conferences–and I was right. This person, who I have never met in “real” life, had undergone emergency surgery. I’ve gotten my sister in on it (I sent her a threatening email with the subject line, “get a bloody del.icio.us account” one day after I got so frustrated about having to cut and paste URL’s of web sites I wanted to share with her), my significant other, my best friend at work, and a few other work colleagues who I trust to know my handle, and I even gritted my teeth and started sharing links via the for: tag with one of my work colleagues–I just won’t email links anymore unless forced. I rather stupidly wrote an article for an internal newsletter once with my handle clearly visible in screenshots (that was before my addiction was complete), so I have long felt lucky that only one librarian actually showed interest in it.

I’ve long considered del.icio.us to be my blog–or my microblog. And the number of fans I have (thanks to ALL of you) shows that a couple of others must appreciate my microblog efforts. Microblogs still haven’t taken off, though Twitter’s popularity (both in love and hate) might show a trend to the micro-ness of communications. Nevertheless, I am already finding that my blogging at length is becoming awfully addicting. And, I have only been at it three days (my last blog I let die in 1999 or something).

del.icio.us is so much more than a blog. Total strangers (though it is not very difficult to figure out who people are) send me links in del.icio.us–I love it. It is my social networking site. Facebook, well, it lets me share pictures with family, but I have recently discovered I prefer Picasa. MySpace, well, ugh. I just can’t get into it. Twitter was fun for a couple of weeks, until my significant other’s friend stopped using it, so basically I was only seeing sporadic updates from someone I already know about. I myself find it a little on the creepy side.

I enjoy seeing how different (and how differently) people tag things in del.icio.us. I have my own system worked out designed to function by adding terms together. It cuts out repetition of terms and completely circumvents the necessity of creating categories, bundles, faux folders, etc. For example, in my schema, you would just create the URL (using the handy plus signs del.icio.us sticks in once you get pull up a tag) where social+networking+academic+libraries+article would pull up all the journal/magazine articles I have collected on social networking in academic libraries. Using the in: and via: tags are also hugely important to my tagging–often I might not really remember what is that I am looking for, but I might remember who I got it from or where it was published.

The tagging I really love seeing, though, are those people who have gotten crazy with the metadata–either by using metadata schemes like Dewey or Dublin Core; a enormous amount of simple, one-word tags; fancy taxonomic bundles (my favorite is vylycyn’s bundle for adjectives); or really totally personal (or uber-meta) tags. vielmetti (as in Edward Vielmetti) is a decided favorite on that score–he’s got tags like “eh?”, “chicken-in-the-rough,” and “using-my-platinum-wow-account-to-buy-groceries.” Then, there are the people who just can’t leave their categorization behind. Mike_Malloch is a great example of this–not only does he bundle with the best of them, he’s got nearly all multi-part tags like webtech/search/indexing and elearning/professional-development. It’s just incredible to get insight into how people think. And, even with this HUGE variance in tagging, there is still enough overlap for an incredible and robust folksonomy to emerge.

I can see why a lot of people just can’t use del.icio.us–it reveals a lot about a person. Interests, future plans (I once found out that someone was looking for a new job this way–don’t bookmark jobs publicly unless they are funny postings, is my recommendation), travels, sense of humor, and thought processes are all revealed, not to mention, it is pretty clear what projects someone is looking into or researching. For a venture capitalist, a journalist, a writer, etc, that is a bit too much of a giveaway. (And let me reiterate that you shouldn’t post jobs publicly to del.icio.us even if you really think you are anonymous…)

Enough babbling on my part for today. I will surely have just as much to devote poor writing and thinking to tomorrow.

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One response to “del.icio.us et al

  1. Hey Ratcatcher;

    “Interests, future plans… , travels, sense of humor, and thought processes are all revealed, not to mention, it is pretty clear what projects someone is looking into or researching.” I heard Terrell Russell speak about both ClaimID and OpenID, online identity, all that fun stuff. Anyway, OpenID is a way of bringing your identity/expertise/credentials with you when you do whatever you do online. So the idea of online anonymity is one we seem to be leaving (for exactly the reasons you mention). Instead, we should take control of our identities, our online selves. The risk, of course, seems the same as in meatspace, that our identity will be rejected/ridiculed/ignored/etc. Interesting stuff…

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