Thursday, February 15, 2007

Social bookmarking

Another facet of the information sharing that characterizes social media is ‘social bookmarking’. Sites like allow people to ‘tag’ their favourite sites in much the same way you would add a site to your ‘favourites’ folder, except the bookmarks are held online and, most importantly, shared with others.

Users can ‘tag’ web pages, ideally with a descriptive category title, and file them online for future reference and sharing with others. For example, here’s a page of delicious tags for social media. Note how a certain amount of status is conferred on a link by the number of people who have tagged it.

I liked this overview on folksonomies from an article in D-Lib magazine:

Just as long as those hyperlinks (or let's call them plain old links) are managed, tagged, commented upon, and published onto the Web, they represent a user's own personal library placed on public record, which – when aggregated with other personal libraries – allows for rich, social networking opportunities. Why spill any ink (digital or not) in rewriting what someone else has already written about instead of just pointing at the original story and adding the merest of titles, descriptions and tags for future reference? More importantly, why not make these personal 'link playlists' available to oneself and to others from whatever browser or computer one happens to be using at the time?

Now that tagging and social bookmarking have been around for a couple of years, the next iteration is the rating and ranking of these shared bookmarks. The Wall Street Journal online ran an article last week on this phenomenon, called The Wizards of Buzz.

A couple of excerpts:

A new generation of hidden influencers is taking root online, fueled by a growing love affair among Web sites with letting users vote on their favorite submissions. These sites are the next wave in the social-networking craze -- popularized by MySpace and Facebook. Digg is one of the most prominent of these sites, which are variously labeled social bookmarking or social news. Others include (recently purchased by Condé Nast), (bought by Yahoo), and Netscape relaunched last June with a similar format.


It's also giving rise to an obsessive subculture of ordinary but surprisingly influential people who, usually without pay and purely for the thrill of it, are trolling cyberspace for news and ideas to share with their network.


Most sites are based on a voting model. Members look around the Web for interesting items, such as video clips, blog entries or news articles. A member then writes a catchy description and posts it, along with a link to the material, on the site, in hopes that other members find it just as interesting and show their approval with an electronic thumbs-up vote. Items that receive enough votes rise in the rankings and appear on the front page, which can be seen by hundreds of thousands of people. When an item is submitted by a popular or influential member -- one whose postings are closely followed by fellow members -- it can have a much better shot at making the front page.

Want to know more about social bookmarking? Wikipedia has an exhaustive history of the origins, as well as some advantages and disadvantages.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

How not to blog

Even though she's out on language training, Kerry is still thinking about social media and communications! She sent me this earlier in the week:

Over at, the official site of the Republican party, there's a link at the far right hand side of the menu for the official blog. Sounds exciting right, and a great opportunity, since the site itself is really nothing more than a huge opportunity to share information (it's loaded with audio and video), and everything has a "share this" link or an "embed this" link on it.

However, the blog has not been updated since November 2006, before the last election. I'm guessing it's because they fire all their employees shortly after an election. But still, this is insanity. People are running for president and they aren't commenting. They aren't even linking to other bloggers. This is a waste of potential, and I fear it could happen to us if we do an official blog. It isn't someone's job, therefore it slips off the agenda. Or we just pervert press releases and make that our blog.

I think this is a good lesson learned.

If you'd like to contribute something to this blog, feel free to e-mail it to me through our blog mail box: canadiancybrarian (at) gmail (dot) com. (Edited to add: I previously had the wrong e-mail address listed here! My apologies if you tried to send something and it didn't get through.)

Friday, February 9, 2007

Links for 9 February 2007

Still not sure what this whole blog thing is about? Need to back up and read a little Blog 101? Check out Matthew Ingram’s great article from the Globe and Mail this week: A blog for every occasion.

If you’re a little more blog savvy, you might be interested in this report, via, on “splogs” (spam blogs): Pings, Spings, Splogs and the Splogosphere: 2007 Updates

Also via Ian, an update on the Houston Metro blog fiasco (looks like they do ‘get it’ after all! Good for them! It’s still a fascinating case study, especially in the comment section.) And, for a completely different take on transit advocacy and social media, take a look at the Toronto Transit Camp (slogan: Bettering the Better Way) from proponents of the Toronto Transit Commission.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

More thoughts on social media news releases

Props to the folks over at the Prime Minister’s office, who have gone beyond simply posting video clips on the PM’s official Web site and have now created a YouTube account and started uploading clips of the PM’s speeches. (via CTV journalist and blogger David Akin.)

Ironic that this 'news' broke just as a colleague started looking into doing just this sort of thing. She’s wondering about making video and audio clips available on our own external Web site. Why not? Why not make downloadable clips of designated spokespeople talking, instead of just printed citations? Instead of just getting pick-up in the print media, we can start pushing content out to the broadcast media - not just the big outlets, but think of all those community stations and the local radio shows. And we could do it in multiple languages, not just English and French but Mandarin and Punjabi and other large ethnic concentrations. And since we've already got the clips, why not upload them to YouTube?

And while all that was percolating in my brain, this morning I read this great post by Brendan Hodgson at Hill & Knowlton on the social media newsroom. He calls the newsroom “the pulse of an organization's public-facing website,” a virtual ‘broadcast hub’ that, when done right, “serves as a convenient one-stop resource for journalists (who rely heavily on the internet - and corporate web sites - for timely, useful background information around a company, product or issue), [becoming] a potent vehicle for communicating to all interested audiences the vision and values of an organization.” He goes on to argue for a newsroom that is “a portal of sorts configured to channel content - be it video, audio, text, photos, blogs, podcasts etc. - in a way that creates a significantly richer experience, and which can meaningfully impact the myriad of variables that drive reputation - from the perspectives of accessibility, relevancy, transparency, and context.” (Sorry for the extensive quoting, but I really think Brendan got this bang-on, and I think we are seriously underutilizing the capabilities of our website newsroom.)

I poked around to see if any Canadian government organizations have been using video clips in their public news rooms, but I didn’t find much. Agriculture has some Tony Clement talking about Canada’s new food guide. Know of any others out there?

So, what do you think? Is it time for governments to start offering downloadable audio and video clips? Could a departmental podcast be far behind?