I like: library catalogue cards

I couldn't resist a shot of the library catalogue card generator (via The Morning News). How lovely. Being an ex-librarian a call number sprang to mind (I classified books for years and know parts of the Dewey Decimal System off by heart) which turned out to be the number for Research. I guess that's quite appropriate for I like.

Classification systems are pretty fascinating if you like that kind of thing. Any attempt to organise knowledge shouldn't be sniffed at and reading through the Dewey classes is intriguing. There are romantic subjects like Celestial mechanics, Incunabula, Dreams & Mysteries, Salvation & Grace and lots of words to look up in the dictionary like Syllogisms, Theodicy and Eschatology.

Old Melvil Dewey himself was a bit of a character. Having successfully organised everything in the world he turned his passions to spelling reform. He insisted that his name should be spelt Melvil Dui and the American spelling of catalog is all his fault. A quote from his Wikipedia entry:

His theories of spelling reform found some local success at Lake Placid: there is an "Adirondac Loj" in the area, and dinner menus of the Lake Placid Club featured his spelling reform. A September 1927 menu is headed "Simpler spelin" and features dishes like Hadok, Poted beef with noodls, Parsli or Masht potato, Butr, Steamd rys, Letis, and Ys cream. It also advises guests that "All shud see the butiful after-glo on mountains to the east just befor sunset. Fyn vu from Golfhous porch."

Wise cream? The great big fool. Vaguely related: The epic 1995 film Party Girl with Parker Posey as a New York raver who turns into a dedicated librarian, AceJet 170 on flight ticket nostalgia and a whole raft of Flickr library groups including Library postcards.

Do you think tagging in digital libraries will replace old classification systems? And is a system built by many (the bottom up tagging) better than one built by a few (the top down of Dewey)?

Oooh, good questions! Having thought about it I think yes, and probably. People are too used to getting things instantly now, big classification systems can't possibly keep up. Dewey takes so long to be revised that it's out of date before it's published. I do have respect for the top down approach though - what you gain in topicality and immediacy from a folksonomy you lose in order and consistency. But that's just my tuppenceworth, what do you think?

dui wud hav luvd txt speke innit.

Good point. Obviously ahead of his time.

what you gain in topicality and immediacy from a folksonomy you lose in order and consistency

Aye, there's the rub...

Being a big tagging fan (albeit one reluctant to call it folksomy...) the notion does rely one people developing their own systems of tagging, but it does allow expanion and divergence.

Over on flickr you can see different attitudes to tagging: Guess Where London? likes it but doesn't regard it as key, whereas GWL geotagged is really big on followng a defined system, and other guess where groups may not bother with tagging at all. It seems once you have a group building a folksomy they veer towards building systems rather than just letting it happen.

The Flickr thing is interesting. I don't know why but I find the prescriptive tagging thing quite annoying in that kind of forum, although elsewhere it's probably the best way of working.

You've got me reading up on this now as I wondered if there was a compromise between the top-down and bottom-up. Sounds like the collabulary is the answer.

Anne, that Card Generator is fantastic, so I've nicked it for Ace Jet. Thanks for the links too. I've reciprocated.

For those unhappy with 'folksonomy'there's a link out of the Wikipedia page to an article that sniffily suggests 'mob indexing' as an alternative. (I like the image that this conjures of a mass of unruly librarians waving fiery torches and pitchforks...)

Collabulary is a nice word. It's neat, it's inventive, and it sounds like it was coined by Bill and Ben the Flowerpot Men.

Hmmm... so what we did with GWL - geotagged is a collaborary? The tagging system was imported in part from the looser GWL where it had developed, and was 'formalised' by the group mods so that we have a system which:
a) allows user navigation and stats gathering through the use of 'required' tags
b) allows user idiosynchronisity in tagging since anyone can still add their own tags on top?

what I've noticed as a tagger is that my early "woo! this is so cool!" has been replaced with a more systematic approach and that my main problem is the number of users of tagging sites (be it flickr or you tube) who do not use the function.

tagging and youtube

The book lover in me is satisfied, and happily so, with all these tasty links. Thanks!
see you, gracia

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