I’d like your input on something. I’m trying something out on another site: www.archivesandhistory.com. Go and take a look. This site will contain descriptions and links to online resources for digitized primary resources provided by archives, special collections, museums, and other cultural heritage organizations. As you can see, I’ve got two sample reviews up now. The resources are assigned categories and you can browse the site contents by category, so if I’m consistent over the long term you would be able to link to all the sites with resources on say, Maine history. You could also do a keyword search on all the site descriptions.
This is all pretty standard–I think it’s still worthwhile even though there are some other sites out there that do similar things (but not quite the same). Where I think I could do something new is in the area of using del.icio.us tags for online resources. If you click on the link in the upper right to “See my del.icio.us tags” you can see a tag cloud for about 92 sites that I’ve tagged. I started out by looking at sites for Pennsylvania history–just as a starting point–so that’s why it’s heavy on Pennsylvania resources. (And I know I wasn’t consistent–I was just trying it out.) Clicking on any individual tag will take you to a list of all the sites that I’ve applied that tag to. Clicking on “my del.icio.us tags” will take you to the whole list.
What the tagging could do that using the categories on the regular site can’t is, first, to simply enable faster indexing–I don’t need to write a description of the site. More importantly, it could enable sharing of the tagged resources within a network (if we had a network). I’ve looked around a bit at other people’s tags, and as you would expect, it’s pretty random. People tag things for their own reasons, using their own logic. For example, I went to del.icio.us and searched on “Ohio” and “archives”. There were fifty results, and I certainly wouldn’t have called some of them archival. But if we had a network of people sharing their tags for good archival resources, then this could be a way to set up a gateway to archival resources without having to set up database or maintain complicated lists. And we could get around the issue of so many things being described as “archives” or “archival” in other senses of the words. Anybody have any experience with using tags in this way, or any thoughts on it?