Volume 11 Number 4
Personalized Information Organization
The increasing availability of digital materials on the Internet, along with automated services such as search engines, has made it possible for people to discover and access more information, by themselves, minute for minute, than ever before. In addition, the Web is enabling the creation of personalized yet networked collections of materials and services that in some ways resemble library special collections.
In this issue of D-Lib Magazine, you will find a two-part article on social bookmarking tools that enable just such personalized, networked collections. Part I of the article provides an overview of social bookmarking tools. It defines what a social bookmarking tool is and does, and describes several recently developed tools. Part II focuses on a specific tool, Connotea, made available by Nature Publishing Group (NPG) and developed by NPG specifically for users to manage bookmarks to scholarly resources. Part II also outlines how to use Connotea. I encourage you to explore Connotea and experiment with it.
Connotea was developed primarily "to be useful as a personal bookmarking and reference management tool" where users collect and tag URLs in an online, networked space, but as more people use Connotea, it has revealed additional benefits, including tag convergence, recommendations and directory creation.
Although, NPG plans to develop the capability for adding private bookmarks to Connotea, at present bookmarks posted to Connotea are visible to all users and site visitors. As the article points out, there are definite benefits to this openness, as well as some possible concerns.
Worth noting is the strong grass roots aspect to Connotea and the other social bookmarking tools. Individuals who are not information professionals are organizing and categorizing large amounts of external information both for their own use and for use by others. This is a potentially significant change. Until recently classification of information was a top-down, structured process. Now, much like the increasing customization of goods and services available to us (think of an entire life's music collection available as single songs on a device the size of a pocket pack of tissue), the power of computer networks has put a powerful organizational capability in the hands of ordinary information consumers. Will it work? Will this create a level of personalized information organization different but of equal or even greater importance to that created by the information professionals?
At this time, Connotea and the other social bookmarking tools are still very much works-in-progress, and it will be interesting to watch as they develop. Stay tuned.
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