Monday, May 07, 2007

"Why Web 2.0 is leading back to full cataloging"

Interesting post on LibraryJuice on "Why Web 2.0 is leading back to full cataloging" covering LibraryThingThing and Last.fm.

The quick summary--okay, the first sentence and the last!--is:
"We often think of Web 2.0 sites in terms of the idea of “tagging instead of cataloging.” ... Free-form tagging has its place, but where consistency and accuracy counts, as it does in many Web 2.0 sites, I think reliance on users will turn out to have been a dead-end, and there will be a new appreciation for our professionalism."
I agree with the idea that Web 2.0 can—indeed, in LibraryThing, has!—lead to a new appreciation of library data, libraries, librarians and catalogers. It might help, however, if more libraries (and particularly OCLC) released their data, and in friendly formats, not MARC. (It's hard to appreciate something you don't know about and can't use.) But I strongly disagree that there's a real tension between the two—that tags are the enemy of subjects, for example. But it's certainly food for thought.

If the blogger reads this, how about spending some more time on LibraryThing? Some of LibraryThing's social cataloging features were mentioned, but then not brought into the argument. For example, other librarians have noticed that LibraryThing's work-disambiguation data was of very high quality, and a number of libraries are already using it. That data is member-created, but built on library data. Maybe that's the future--a constructive collaboration and mutual respect between professionals and amateurs.

2 Comments:

Blogger Rory said...

Ah, the 2nd part of the first sentence was that "tagging versus cataloging" is a misunderstanding. In LibraryThing tagging stands alongside, separate from the metadata about the books. In Last.fm also, tagging is a separate feature from the metadata about music tracks. My point was that the functionality of the sites may be driving the metadata toward more consistency and accuracy, and that that may make it inappropriate to make that data user-defined, if another way of doing it emerges. Right now data from Amazon is messy enough that it is very helpful to allow people to fix it. This is less of an issue on LibraryThing than on Last.fm, where the sources of metdata for music tracks have such poor quality. I was saying that one of the things that makes LibraryThing work as well as it does is the generally high quality of the data that it is possible to import based on looking up a book. This is thanks to the standards and practices of traditional cataloging. There is no such standard in the music industry for a site like Last.fm to lean on.

5/07/2007 6:46 AM  
Blogger Tim said...

Hi Rory. Thanks for dropping by.

If you want to do a thread on this in Librarians who LibraryThing, I'd love to. I think it's a really vital question. You're asking a very important question. So far, reaction to Web 2.0 and UGC* has mostly been enthusiasm or dismissal. There isn't much careful thinking through of what really changes, and what it means. I think your suggestion that--if I get you right--large-scale UGC will increasingly underline the need for and respect accorded to NUGC is worth talking through.

*I hate that term

5/07/2007 10:35 AM  

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