One of my favorite little miracles about social technology is the aspect of tagging. How unbelievably beneficial it is to have a folksonomy to fall back on in times where I need resources to pull from. I tag resources constantly, often many more than I will ever use–I have this vision of these tags in my Diigo account becoming the equivalent of space junk, just orbiting mindlessly waiting to bumped into by a future idea of mine, or someone else’s.
Tonight, that scenario played out perfectly as I pulled together the presentation I am giving at Tech Forum Northeast on October 24th, in Palisades, NY. I had tagged the resources I needed for this presentation with the tag techforumny08, and thought nothing of them. Today when I began to pull things together, I used the search feature in the Diigo toolbar, but forgot exactly what I had tagged them with. In my search for the right tag (I tried techlearning08, techforum, techform08) I came across some gems that had been locked away from as long ago as last year. Posts from Ben Wilkoff about the Ripe Environment, some rants from David Jakes, and even the sites I was actually looking for.
This modern folksonomical system a great number of people are using would have saved my hide in high school and college. I had enough skills to pull assignments off with shoddy effort and sometimes fudged resources, but it wasn’t for lack of getting the resources. I had them. I just had no idea where I put them. Tagging and social bookmarking are a perfect match for those of us who remember the odd parts of what we read, the idiosyncratic elements that make us tag them with a moniker that only we would recognize, or others like us. The beauty of this system is that it also works for the type A personalities of the world who tag with the most likely tag for an article. It’s those people I rely on when I set up del.icio.us tag searches and monitor them by RSS. They are much smarter than I. The number of resources I receive in my Reader that come from those searches is staggering, and 100% worth it.
Our history and English Departments at the high school held a joint meeting today regarding research and writing. For the first time the idea of tagging was brought up by someone other than me. Little tears of joy welled up in me when I was told of this. Now the larger question is whether or not that type of information is being passed on to the students. That’s tomorrow’s question.