February 20, 2015 by Susan Prillaman
In most matters I follow the principle of “less is more,” preferring to avoid clutter of all ilk. But for the purposes of this assignment specifically, and tagging in general, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and I part company. I would much prefer too many tags–provided they are reflective of the post’s content–than too few. In my review of ten posts from NCPH’s History@Work site listed below, I make the following generalizations.
Since the author is responsible for tagging their posts, meaning is ascribed to these terms by the author; meanings which obviously vary between individuals. It may occur in the long term that agreement will coalesce around standardized meanings. However, I was not able to discern any changes in tagging over the three or so years represented by the History@Work blog. This coalescence may occur naturally or be forced into being by the development of a formalized, or at least defined, tagging folksonomy.
In terms of a cluster theme that includes the tags “digital history,” “digital media,” “social media” and “media,” if one all-encompassing tag were to be used, I’m not sure what it would be: “Digital” and “media” are just too broad. “Digital history,” “digital media,” “social media” and “media” within context reflect reasonable access point terminology, but “digital humanities” and “digital tools” are missing.
Without knowing the specific issues involved, it’s difficult to recommend revisions to the tagging scheme. It may be that the problem could be addressed from the perspective of those who tag rather than the tags themselves. In my review, I observed that some authors prefer many, often redundant tags, while others are more minimalist; “describers” and “catagorizers” in the language of Christian Korner, et al., in Susan Cairns’ “Tag! Your It! What Value Do Folksonomies Bring To The Online Museum Collection.” Both methods have their advantages and in my sample set, the two were evenly represented.
If some tags are redundant and others aren’t utilized much, that’s just fine. Redundant tags (as irritating as I find them) provide alternate ways to access content; underutilized tags may eventually fall out of use but in the meantime can provide a point of access to those who still use them.
List of blog posts reviewed:
Every tool is a weapon: Why the digital humanities movement needs public history. Tags: digital history, digital humanities, digital media, education, media, methods, public engagement, scholarship, THATCamp. Date: 2012-11-02