The Indexer: The International Journal of Indexing

The memory of tags

The Indexer: The International Journal of Indexing (2019), 37, (3), 211–222.


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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Author details

Cevolini, Alberto