sb, t & f…

June 21, 2007

One of the more cited problems with social bookmarking is the idea of metanoise, which was brought up in Adam Mathes article, and was also discussed in the presentation and Marco’s blog.  While I agree that this can be a significant problem, as people do have unique conceptualizations of certain topics and items I don’t necessarily see it as the most significant drawback. 

 An article I researched for the presentation by Scott A. Golder and Bernardo A. Huberman (Golder, Scott A., and Huberman, Bernardo A. “Usage patterns of collaborative tagging systems.” Journal of Information Science. Vol. 32, no.2 (2006): 198-206) analyze the issue directly, though not specifically labelling it metanoise.  The study that they undergo examines the nature of traditional taxonomy versus a tagging system, but goes beyond that and analyses collective tagging on  It is an excellent study that I highly recommend if you want to know more about the issue.  What they eventually conclude is that social sensmaking in this case pans out as “stable patterns emerge in tag proportions” and that “minority opinions can coexist alongside popular ones without disrupting the consensus choices made by many users.”  I think that their conclusions would hold just as true were a collective tagging system be implemented in a library catalogue or in a large journal database. 

I think the another problem to arise from social bookmarking, not discussed much in the literature, is that it has the potential to exacerbate the already existing problem of poor information literacy among students and the general population.  While it can be annoying to learn the controlled vocabulary of databases, or the subject headings in OPAC or traditional taxonomies, I feel that after learning them you would be better equipped to research information than if there was just a flat tagging system.  It is possible that people will grow accustomed to keyword searching for tags rather than trying to learn specific search techniques.  I’m not arguing that a social bookmarking system not be implemented but I think there are problems to bear in mind.


4 Responses to “sb, t & f…”

  1. qingyi Says:

    You raised a very good point. I totally agree that the social bookmarking is lack of standards and causes many ambiguities. If we look at, we will be able to find tons of synonyms and obscure terms which are only meaningful to the creator.

  2. Marco Says:

    I am going to look in to that article. The idea of patterns and tagging is really interesting and h ow this works with keyword searching, but I also agree that a flat system can only go so far before running in circles.

  3. shnnon Says:

    Thanks for the tip on the Golder & Huberman article. Signal to noise ratio (SNR) was a concern for me; if the number of tags created by those with poor information literacy practices outweighs those of the skilled, the original data will become obscured. Glad to hear that this isn’t currently an issue and the numbers currently are in the researchers’ favour. I wonder if there will be a point in the near or remote future at which the results go the other way. [Shannon]

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