The Indexer: The International Journal of Indexing

The memory of tags

The Indexer: The International Journal of Indexing (1970), 37, (3), 211–222.

Abstract

In the last twenty years, indexing systems have undergone a profound transformation that has been dubbed social tagging or folksonomy. The aim of this article is not to furnish instructions about the best way to tag library resources. Instead, the aim here is to consider the activity of tagging from a more abstract standpoint; that is, from the viewpoint of social memory. As a first priority, therefore, this article deals with the function performed by tagging: how social access to information is organized. After a brief discussion of social memory, three core issues are taken into consideration: first, the function performed by tagging; second, the feedback cycle which is triggered by the interplay of users and the machine; third, the way that tags do not inform us about the contents of library resources, but about what users think the contents of library resources are. The last question to be tackled by this article is whether any correlation with the evolution of social memory can be discerned in the procedures of tagging and, if so, what the evolutionary advantage of the activity of social tagging consists of.

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References

Amitay, E., Darlow, A., Konopnicki, D. and Weiss, U. (2005) ‘Queries as anchors: selection by association’, in Proceedings of the 16th ACM Conference on Hypertext and Hypermedia. New York: ACM, pp. 193–201. Google Scholar

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Ashby, W. R. (1960) Design for a brain: the origin of adaptive behaviour. London: Chapman & Hall. Google Scholar

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Benvenuti, N. (2007) ‘Social tagging e biblioteche’, Biblioteche oggi 3, April, 35–42. Google Scholar

Cattuto, C., Loreto, V. and Pietronero, L. (2007) ‘Semiotic dynamics and collaborative tagging’, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 104(5), 1461–4. Google Scholar

Cevolini, A. (2014) ‘Indexing as preadaptive advance: a socio-evolutionary perspective’, The Indexer 32(2), 50–7. Google Scholar

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Darwin, C. (1952) The origin of species by means of natural selection (original edn 1872). Chicago: The University of Chicago Press and William Benton Pbl. Google Scholar

Esposito, E. (2001) La memoria sociale: Mezzi per comunicare e modi di dimenticare. Rome and Bari: Laterza. Google Scholar

Esposito, E. (2010) ‘Social forgetting: a systems-theory approach’, in A. Erll and A. Nünning (eds), A companion to cultural memory studies. Berlin and New York: Walter de Gruyter, pp. 181–90. Google Scholar

Esposito, E. (2017) ‘Artificial communication? The production of contingency by algorithms’, Zeitschrift für Soziologie 46(4), 249–65. Google Scholar

Glanville, R. (1982) ‘Inside every white box there are two black boxes trying to get out’, Behavioral Science 27, 1–11. Google Scholar

Golder, S. and Huberman, B. (2006) ‘The structure of collaborative tagging systems’, Journal of Information Science 32(2), 198–208. Google Scholar

Halpin, H., Robu, V. and Shepherd, H. (2007) ‘The complex dynamics of collaborative tagging’, in Proceedings of the 16th International Conference on World Wide Web. New York: ACM, pp. 211–20. Google Scholar

Halpin, H., Robu, V. and Shepherd, H. (2009) ‘Emergence of consensus and shared vocabularies in collaborative tagging systems’, ACM Transaction on the Web 3, 1–30. Google Scholar

Hottinger, J. H. (1664) Bibliothecarius quadripartitus. Tiguri: Sumpt. Melchioris Stauffacheri. Google Scholar

Kayser, A. C. (1790) Über die Manipulation bey der Einrichtung einer Bibliothek und der Verfertigung der Bücherverzeichnisse. Bayreuth: Im Verlag der Zeitungsdruckerei. Google Scholar

Kipp, M. and Campbell, G. (2010) ‘Searching with tags: do tags help users find things?’, Knowledge Organization 37(4), 239–55. Google Scholar

Luhmann, N. (1997) Die Gesellschaft der Gesellschaft. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp. Google Scholar

Luhmann, N. (2009) Die Realität der Massenmedien. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften. Google Scholar

Luhmann, N. (2011) Organisation und Entscheidung. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften. Google Scholar

Maturana, H. (1983) ‘Reflexionen: Lernen oder onto-genetische Drift’, Delfin 2, 60–71. Google Scholar

Navarro Bullock, B., Hotho, A. and Stumme, G. (2018) ‘Accessing information with tags: search and ranking’, in P. Brusilovsky and D. He (eds), Social information access: systems and technologies. Cham: Springer, pp. 310–43. Google Scholar

Peters, I. (2009) Folksonomies: indexing and retrieval in Web 2.0. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter. Google Scholar

Quintarelli, E. (2005) ‘Folksonomies: power to the people’, paper presented at the ISKO Italy-UniMIB Meeting, 24 June, Milan. Google Scholar

Rolla, P. (2009) ‘User tags versus subject headings: can user-supplied data improve subject access to library collections?’, Library Resources & Technical Services 53(3), 174–84. Google Scholar

Sinclair, J. and Cardew-Hall, M. (2008) ‘The folksonomy tag cloud: when is it useful?’, Journal of Information Science 34(1), 15–29. Google Scholar

Smith, G. (2008) Tagging: people-powered metadata for the social web. Berkeley, CA: New Riders. Google Scholar

Spencer, H. (1937) First principles. London: Watts & Co. Google Scholar

Spiteri, L. (2006) ‘The use of folksonomies in public library catalogues’, Serials Librarian: From the Printed Page to the Digital Age 51(2), 75–89. Google Scholar

von Foerster, H. (1948) Das Gedächtnis: Eine quantenphysikalische Untersuchung, Vienna: Franz Deuticke. Google Scholar

von Foerster, H. (1971) ‘Technology: what will it mean to librarians?’, Illinois Libraries 53(9), 785–803. Google Scholar

Weinberger, D. (2005) ‘Taxonomies to tags: from trees to piles of leaves’, Release 1.0 23(2), 1–32. Google Scholar

Weinberger, D. (2007) Everything is miscellaneous: the power of the new digital disorder. New York: Times Books. Google Scholar

Wu, H., Zubair, M. and Maly, K. (2006) ‘Harvesting social knowledge from folksonomies’, in Proceedings of the 17th ACM Conference on Hypertext and Hypermedia. New York: ACM, pp. 111–14. Google Scholar

Amitay, E., Darlow, A., Konopnicki, D. and Weiss, U. (2005) ‘Queries as anchors: selection by association’, in Proceedings of the 16th ACM Conference on Hypertext and Hypermedia. New York: ACM, pp. 193–201. Google Scholar

Ashby, W. R. (1956) An introduction to cybernetics. London: Chapman & Hall. Google Scholar

Ashby, W. R. (1958) ‘Requisite variety and its implications for the control of complex systems’, Cybernetica 1(2), 83–99. Google Scholar

Ashby, W. R. (1960) Design for a brain: the origin of adaptive behaviour. London: Chapman & Hall. Google Scholar

Balsamo, L. (2000) La bibliografia: Storia di una tradizione. Milan: Sansoni. Google Scholar

Benvenuti, N. (2007) ‘Social tagging e biblioteche’, Biblioteche oggi 3, April, 35–42. Google Scholar

Cattuto, C., Loreto, V. and Pietronero, L. (2007) ‘Semiotic dynamics and collaborative tagging’, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 104(5), 1461–4. Google Scholar

Cevolini, A. (2014) ‘Indexing as preadaptive advance: a socio-evolutionary perspective’, The Indexer 32(2), 50–7. Google Scholar

Cevolini, A. (2017) ‘Making notae for scholarly retrieval: a Franciscan case study’, in M. Teeuwen and I. van Renswoude (eds), The annotated book in the early Middle Ages: practices of reading and writing. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 343–67. Google Scholar

Darwin, C. (1952) The origin of species by means of natural selection (original edn 1872). Chicago: The University of Chicago Press and William Benton Pbl. Google Scholar

Esposito, E. (2001) La memoria sociale: Mezzi per comunicare e modi di dimenticare. Rome and Bari: Laterza. Google Scholar

Esposito, E. (2010) ‘Social forgetting: a systems-theory approach’, in A. Erll and A. Nünning (eds), A companion to cultural memory studies. Berlin and New York: Walter de Gruyter, pp. 181–90. Google Scholar

Esposito, E. (2017) ‘Artificial communication? The production of contingency by algorithms’, Zeitschrift für Soziologie 46(4), 249–65. Google Scholar

Glanville, R. (1982) ‘Inside every white box there are two black boxes trying to get out’, Behavioral Science 27, 1–11. Google Scholar

Golder, S. and Huberman, B. (2006) ‘The structure of collaborative tagging systems’, Journal of Information Science 32(2), 198–208. Google Scholar

Halpin, H., Robu, V. and Shepherd, H. (2007) ‘The complex dynamics of collaborative tagging’, in Proceedings of the 16th International Conference on World Wide Web. New York: ACM, pp. 211–20. Google Scholar

Halpin, H., Robu, V. and Shepherd, H. (2009) ‘Emergence of consensus and shared vocabularies in collaborative tagging systems’, ACM Transaction on the Web 3, 1–30. Google Scholar

Hottinger, J. H. (1664) Bibliothecarius quadripartitus. Tiguri: Sumpt. Melchioris Stauffacheri. Google Scholar

Kayser, A. C. (1790) Über die Manipulation bey der Einrichtung einer Bibliothek und der Verfertigung der Bücherverzeichnisse. Bayreuth: Im Verlag der Zeitungsdruckerei. Google Scholar

Kipp, M. and Campbell, G. (2010) ‘Searching with tags: do tags help users find things?’, Knowledge Organization 37(4), 239–55. Google Scholar

Luhmann, N. (1997) Die Gesellschaft der Gesellschaft. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp. Google Scholar

Luhmann, N. (2009) Die Realität der Massenmedien. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften. Google Scholar

Luhmann, N. (2011) Organisation und Entscheidung. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften. Google Scholar

Maturana, H. (1983) ‘Reflexionen: Lernen oder onto-genetische Drift’, Delfin 2, 60–71. Google Scholar

Navarro Bullock, B., Hotho, A. and Stumme, G. (2018) ‘Accessing information with tags: search and ranking’, in P. Brusilovsky and D. He (eds), Social information access: systems and technologies. Cham: Springer, pp. 310–43. Google Scholar

Peters, I. (2009) Folksonomies: indexing and retrieval in Web 2.0. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter. Google Scholar

Quintarelli, E. (2005) ‘Folksonomies: power to the people’, paper presented at the ISKO Italy-UniMIB Meeting, 24 June, Milan. Google Scholar

Rolla, P. (2009) ‘User tags versus subject headings: can user-supplied data improve subject access to library collections?’, Library Resources & Technical Services 53(3), 174–84. Google Scholar

Sinclair, J. and Cardew-Hall, M. (2008) ‘The folksonomy tag cloud: when is it useful?’, Journal of Information Science 34(1), 15–29. Google Scholar

Smith, G. (2008) Tagging: people-powered metadata for the social web. Berkeley, CA: New Riders. Google Scholar

Spencer, H. (1937) First principles. London: Watts & Co. Google Scholar

Spiteri, L. (2006) ‘The use of folksonomies in public library catalogues’, Serials Librarian: From the Printed Page to the Digital Age 51(2), 75–89. Google Scholar

von Foerster, H. (1948) Das Gedächtnis: Eine quantenphysikalische Untersuchung, Vienna: Franz Deuticke. Google Scholar

von Foerster, H. (1971) ‘Technology: what will it mean to librarians?’, Illinois Libraries 53(9), 785–803. Google Scholar

Weinberger, D. (2005) ‘Taxonomies to tags: from trees to piles of leaves’, Release 1.0 23(2), 1–32. Google Scholar

Weinberger, D. (2007) Everything is miscellaneous: the power of the new digital disorder. New York: Times Books. Google Scholar

Wu, H., Zubair, M. and Maly, K. (2006) ‘Harvesting social knowledge from folksonomies’, in Proceedings of the 17th ACM Conference on Hypertext and Hypermedia. New York: ACM, pp. 111–14. Google Scholar

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Author details

Cevolini, Alberto

Cevolini, Alberto