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ASIS&T 2006 Poster Session: So, Let’s Talk About Tagging November 7, 2006

Posted by jennimi in conference, tagging, web 2.0.

93 - web 2.0!

June Abbas and I had a wonderful, engaging and interactive poster session in which we pulled folks in to have discussions with us (pro and con) about the new phenomenon of “tagging”. We believe it was highly successful and fun – well, we had visitors for 2 hours after the session officially ended, so I hope that says something. Is tagging useful? Is it here to stay or a fad? Why are end-users motivated to tag, or not? How can we ascertain a person’s context or intent behind using particular terms? For instance one participant tagged our poster “chaos”. When I questioned her about why (making my famous frowny face, crushed that I somehow displeased her) she responded, “no this is FABULOUS”. “Chaos” meant something different to each of us at that moment in time. And lo, an ancient problem of subject analysis emerges yet again: context and subjectivity.

These and many other questions we discussed with a wonderful group of ASIS&T attendees who weren’t afraid to talk about tagging, and even get involved. We hope research studies and areas will emerge from this discussion.

For my part I am more interested than ever in the social aspects of this kind of classification. To my luck I have found new friends and colleagues who are also interested in discussing research and application implications. We may have just started a new SIG, “SIG-TAG”. Currently a few of us are looking into how to start a SIG at ASIS&T and discussing whether we want to be “official” or out on the fringe…

I will be writing more about my Austin experiences in the next few days. Select photos from our session may be found here. Here are two of my favorites. The first image is our poster just as we put it up. The second is what it looked like after hours of discussions among people from all viewpoints on the issue. I am quite pleased with our project so far and energized about future research.

04 - poster

110 - poster at end

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1. Jim - November 7, 2006

Jenn is probably too modest to note this for her many readers, but look: Michael Stephens at Tame the Web says “Run, don’t walk to [this post!].

Yay, Jenn!

2. Lady Turpentine - November 7, 2006

I am SO proud of you! In less than a month you have participated in a panel discussion at a regional conference (unplanned!) AND co-presented a poster at a national conference! :-D

3. LibraRonin - November 7, 2006

Congratz Jenn!
Looks like you had a good trip out to Austin. Hopefully you had time to enjoy things outside the conference too.

4. Hermes - November 8, 2006

links for 2006-11-08

Gothamist interviewed Ian MacKaye | MP3s (tags: Music) NY Times talks more about the closing of Northsix (tags: Music Brooklyn) sljsummit / PassItForward (tags: Wiki conference Libraries) Gear Up Your Research Guides with the Emerging OPML Codes (tags…

5. jennimi - November 8, 2006

Thanks everyone. I have been busy forming a new SIG group here at ASIS&T, enjoying a bit of the city, attending presentations, and trying to get in and flickr and blog when I can. I return home tomorrow. Phew, I am exhausted. (LT: you made my day today).

6. Mark - November 8, 2006

It was an awesome poster! And I was proud to be a part of SIG-TAG at SIG-CON. Where else might someone get away with tagging Michael Buckland with “antelope”?

Missin’ you already!

7. ChocoKAT - November 8, 2006

Tag! Your It!!

8. Colin Purrington - November 8, 2006

So tagging with Post-Its seems to be hugely fun — any chance a major conference such as, say, AAAS, would add some social tagging activity to its poster sessions…to liven them up a little?

9. jennimi - November 10, 2006

@ ChocoKAT: first, help me define my “it”, then we’ll tag it. How about, “jennimi”?

@Colin: welcome to jennimi! I love new readers! AAAS, huh?

I always think anything is worth a try. I think our poster was successful because it was simple (visual) which is of course the idea behind a tagcloud, a visual rep. of concepts, and it was interactive. Keep in mind we are a bunch of info professionals. Would it go over as well in other subcultures? I think we need to start looking at that in a research based manner. Are you presenting soon? Please keep in touch with us about your experience if you try something similar!

10. Em - November 11, 2006

Hi Colin! Hi Jenn!

I think maybe there would be some fun issues involved in using social tagging across poster sessions – if broad tagging of everybody’s posters was what was meant. This was presented as an experiment and directly presided over by a set of fun and approachable people, which removed a lot of the inhibitions that people might otherwise have felt about tagging. On the other hand, trying it might be a great way of testing this assertion out. Anonymous tagging with standard yellow post-its, ID’d tagging with pre-printed/numbered post-its…

Parallel documentation techniques, like conference blogging and IRC backchat, can sometimes be a little destabilising, partly because the rules of engagement are different. People don’t join the discourse in quite the same way; especially in synch. chat, they have this tendancy to consider the borders of the chatroom as the boundary of the discussion. I think of this as one of the factors that stand in the way of producing a coherent narrative from the various data sources surrounding an event. If that makes sense *scratches head*

Umm… so I suppose I am saying that people were drawn to engage more closely with your poster through tagging, through face-to-face discussion and kinesthetic activity, and given that the topic of the poster was tagging that had the well-planned advantage of killing two metaphorical birds with one carefully targeted lump of rock. Engaging with posters on other topics through tagging is an interesting one, but might require a little thought about how concept mapping as a collaborative activity fits in with exploration of other topics, and how to keep it constructive and coherent.

There may be a one-size-fits-all approach, but I would expect some difficulty in the first instance; posters have a presenter behind them, after all, and unless we engage with them first, we as the taggers cannot know whether they are standing behind us or have gone off for a coffee, so there is a risk of some odd affect. A poster as an artifact quite often acts as an entry point into constructive discussion; what kind of annotation would best facilitate that…? Asynchronous threaded discussion by post-it?

Meh… I’m still jet-lagged!

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