Our colleagues at the National Archives have jumped into the blogging pool

This deserves more comment, but as I’m rushed, I’ll just share the link to the blog NARA has recently launched, “NARAations“–first topical post: “Question: Should we allow the public to tag descriptions in our online catalog? Why or why not?”–we just had two sessions about that here at SAA, didn’t we? Can someone explain to me why this is even a question they should be asking at this point?

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4 thoughts on “Our colleagues at the National Archives have jumped into the blogging pool”

  1. No, I cannot explain why NARA would question social tagging at this point, but NARA typically not been an archival innovator so I’m not surprised they are still asking these questions. Thanks for the link to NARAations.

  2. Right, um, about the conference sessions regarding use of social networking tools. I can think of a a few better questions NARA could ask themselves and others:

    1. If you do allow social tagging for descriptions from the public, what purpose do you want them to serve?
    2. How will you know how users are using the social tagging?
    3. How will you evaluate the usefulness of the social tagging?

  3. Given NARA’s lamentable experience with uncontrolled vocabularies in the past (remember NAIL ?) it is astonishing that NARA would float the notion of “social tagging.” It is my understanding that NARA has devoted months and months to remediate this legacy from NAIL, and to allow the reintroducton of uncontrolled voabularies under a new, but fadish and ephemeral stock phrase, can only be regarded as regressive.

  4. I am going to go out on a limb here in Archives 2.0 land and say that I think that mindlessly including social tagging features in “our” environments is not necessarily a wise investment of time and effort. Not very many library-based sites have tagging or comment features that are utilized. I think they are mostly implemented because of the coolness factor, and a sense of “if we build it, they will come.”

    Why don’t users tag things in our environments? I think they want to save this effort for places where they naturally live, which is not our systems. Now it could be that NARA is a big enough place with enough content and enough people that users consider it their home. I don’t know.

    What I think is more important is finding ways to push our content out to other environments, or to allow users to drag our content home with them. If they tag our content in other environments, can we get those valuable tags back? I think this is worthy of exploration.

    I am all for experimentation, but I also think we should know exactly why we are doing something. I think posing this as a question is fine.

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