Living With Wikipedia (China Beat) and Social Bookmarking

China Beat asked me to pull together some thoughts on “WIKIPEDIA, the Free Encyclopedia.”

With help from several friends, including Alan Baumler and Konrad Lawson, I posted “Living With Wikipedia: It’s Here to Stay” (October 7, 2008). I invited comments here at Frog, though, and we would welcome tricks, thoughts, or indignant denuncations.

If I have set this link right (which is a big “if”), Chayford Wikipedia bookmarks will take you to my Delicious bookmarks. This is better than searching Delicious for “Wikipedia,” which gives you 529,036 hits. I don’t want to think about how many hits you would get Googling “Wikipedia.”

Speaking of Delicious (formerly, it’s one of the social bookmarking sites (the link is to the Wikpedia article). Delicious describes itself as “a social bookmarking service that allows you to tag, save, manage and share Web pages all in one place. With emphasis on the power of the community, Delicious greatly improves how people discover, remember and share on the Internet.”

In other words, it’s a cousin of Wikipedia. Whether Delicious too is “here to stay” is another question. By now, searching Delicious generally gives you an overwhelming number of hits. Maybe there’s a better way of handling the problem of sorting and classifying websites.

There are quite a few more such sites in the Wikipedia article “List of Social Software,” including digg, diigo, Furl, and the list goes on.

Touchgraph gives you a beautiful display which shows the web connections for a site you enter into the search box, but I don’t see how it helps me learn about, say Wikipedia.

Likewise oSkope, a “visual search assistant,” which allows you to search visually. What this adds, I am not sure.

In other words, we have come a long way since my green metal box of 3×5 cards. But I would like to hear more skepticism, or at least truth in labeling, about these “social” enterprises. The Wikipedia article Social Bookmarking states some of them:

no standard set of keywords (a lack of a controlled vocabulary), no standard for the structure of such tags (e.g., singular vs. plural, capitalization, etc.), mistagging due to spelling errors, tags that can have more than one meaning, unclear tags due to synonym/antonym confusion, unorthodox and personalized tag schemata from some users, and no mechanism for users to indicate hierarchical relationships between tags (e.g., a site might be labeled as both cheese and cheddar, with no mechanism that might indicate that cheddar is a refinement or sub-class of cheese).

No librarian will be surprised.

Ideas, anyone?


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