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11 FEBRUARY 2012

Zotero: an easy-to-use digital research tool

"Zotero is an easy–to–use yet powerful research tool that helps you gather, organize, and analyze sources (citations, full texts, web pages, images, and other objects), and lets you share the results of your research in a variety of ways. An extension to the popular open–source web browser Firefox, Zotero includes the best parts of older reference manager software (like EndNote) – the ability to store author, title, and publication fields and to export that information as formatted references – and the best parts of modern software and web applications (like iTunes and, such as the ability to interact, tag, and search in advanced ways. Zotero integrates tightly with online resources; it can sense when users are viewing a book, article, or other object on the web, and – on many major research and library sites – find and automatically save the full reference information for the item in the correct fields. Since it lives in the web browser, it can effortlessly transmit information to, and receive information from, other web services and applications; since it runs on one's personal computer, it can also communicate with software running there (such as Microsoft Word). And it can be used offline as well (e.g., on a plane, in an archive without WiFi)."

(Dan Cohen & Sean Takats)


aeroplaneaggregating relevant contentAlfred P. Sloan FoundationAndrew W. Mellon Foundationbibliography software • browser extension • Center for History and New MediacitationDan CohenDel.icio.usdigital libraries • digital research tool • easy-to-use • EndNoteFirefox • full text • gather together • George Mason Universityinformation in contextinformation on the webiTunesknowledge integrationknowledge repository • library sites • Microsoft Word • Mozilla Firefox • offline • online archives • online resourcesopen sourceorganise • receive information • reference informationreference managerresearch toolSean Takatssearchshared collectiontaggingtool • United States Institute of Museum and Library Services • web applicationweb browserweb serviceWiFiZotero


Simon Perkins
30 MAY 2010

Software is increasingly making a difference to the constitution and production of everyday life

"The reason that a focus on Web 2.0 is significant and needed is because the popular web applications it represents are driven by users providing endless and virtually unlimited information about their everyday lives. To put it in Lash's terms, they are clearly on the inside of the everyday, they are up close, they afford direct and routine connections between people and software. We have not yet begun to think through how this personal information might be harvested and used. A starting point would be to find out how this information about everyday mundane lives is being mined, how this feeds into 'relational databases', and with what consequences: the very types of question that are being asked by the writers discussed here. Alongside this it is also important that we consider how the information provided by users, and other 'similar' users, might affect the things they come across. If we return to, which 'learns' users' tastes and preferences and provides them with their own taste–specific online radio station, it is possible to appreciate how the music that people come across and listen to has become a consequence of algorithms. This is undoubtedly an expression of power, not of someone having power over someone else, but of the software making choices and connections in complex and unpredictable ways in order to shape the everyday experiences of the user. How we find the books that shape our writing could be a question we might ask ourselves if we wish to consider the power that algorithms exercise over us and over the formation of knowledge within our various disciplines. (I know of at least two occasions when Amazon has located a book of interest for me that has then gone on to form an important part of a published work.) This is not just about Amazon, it would also include searches on Google Scholar, the use of the bookmarking site, the RSS feeds we might use, or the likely coming applications that will predict, locate and recommend research articles we might be interested in. Readers based in the UK will also by now be considering the power of algorithms to decide the allocation of research funding as the role of metrics in the forthcoming Research Excellence Framework (REF) are finalized."

(David Beer, 996–997)

Beer, D. (2009). "Power through the algorithm? Participatory web cultures and the technological unconscious." New Media & Society 11(6).


TAGS • blogjects • Bruce Sterling • coded objects • cognisphere • communicationcontent creation • context-aware • convergencecrisis of empiricism • cultural formations • cultural formsdatadata miningDel.icio.usdigital culturedynamic interfaceseveryday lifeflows • geodemographic classification • Google Scholarhuman agencyidentityinformationinformation society • intelligent devices • internet of thingsKatherine • logjects • marketing discrimination • mediationmetadatamodes of being • modes of classification • modes of knowing • new media • new new media ontology • Nigel Thrift • old mediaperformative infrastructurespersonal data • post-hegemony • powerResearch Excellence FrameworkRFIDRoger BurrowsRSSScott Lashsocial bookmarkingsocial networkingsocial participation • software sorting • SPIMES • Steve Graham • technological unconscious • technology • transducting space • transformationubiquitous information flowsUKurban studiesvirtual spacesWeb 2.0William Mitchell


Simon Perkins
15 JUNE 2009

Atomiq: visual folksonomy explanation

"I came up with this diagram to show the differences between tagging approaches ... On the vertical axis, we have tags and whether they are public or private. On the horizontal axis, we have the stuff you would tag in these systems (either yours, other people's, or a mixture). Flickr sits in the middle since it allows you to tag your contacts' photos as well as your own, and to keep some photos (and presumably tags) private., of course, lets you tag your own stuff if you want to. I put Furl in the lower right quadrant because it seems to be the only system that lets you keep private tags of others' stuff (properly, it should be closer to Flickr)."
(Gene Smith, 24 January 2005)

[Furl now belongs to Diigo.]



architectureart • Atomiq • chartdataDel.icio.usdiagram • Diigo • Flickrfolksonomy • Furl • Gmailinformation architecturetagtaggingTechnoratiThomas Vander Walvisualisation


Simon Perkins
29 DECEMBER 2008

Clay Shirky on Social Media and Groups

"Clay brings the conversation about social media and its affect on our communications and group forming abilities through a series of easy to grasp examples. He looks at Sharing. reverses the old order of sharing – we used to get together in groups and then share. Whereas tagging now allows us to share and then form groups. Look at Flickr where you can post your tagged images on an event then go find others who have also posted on it. The example is HDR photography on Flickr which originated from someone putting the first HDR image up and another person asked how to achieve it. Soon, around HDR the interest group formed. A community of practice. Then Conversation."
(Steven Clark)

[a useful discussion – if somewhat techno–utopian and teleological]



Simon Perkins
17 APRIL 2007

Folksonomies: Cooperative Classification And Communication Through Shared Metadata

"'Metadata for the Masses,' Peter Merholz argues that a folksonomy can be quite useful in that it reveals the digital equivalent of 'desire lines' (Merholz, 2004). Desire lines are the foot–worn paths that sometimes appear in a landscape over time. Merholz notes, 'A smart landscape designer will let wanderers create paths through use, and then pave the emerging walkways, ensuring optimal utility. Ethnoclassification systems can similarly emerge.' Once you have a preliminary system in place, you can use the most common tags to develop a controlled vocabulary that truly speaks the users' language.'

Merholz recommends using a folksonomy as the start of professionally designed controlled vocabularies. While this may not be practical or desirable in many situations, the fundamental point is that the vocabulary of users may simply be too different from the other parties to adequately 'pave the paths' in advance. Another important point may be that the terms users want to use move too quickly, or are qualitatively different than authors or systems designers.

Merholz's own piece provides an excellent example. Merholz does not use the term 'folksonomy.' He has written on his personal web site that the term is inaccurate due to its derivation from 'taxonomy,' which he argues tend towards hierarchy and control. (Merholz, 2004) (See also Taylor, 2004, for discussions of problems and disputes with the term 'taxonomy.') Merholz prefers the term 'ethnoclassification,' which is what he uses in his article, and there is no mention of 'folksonomy' to be found. Ethnoclassification is also inaccurate, because as discussed, what is happening is quite unlike classification and far more like categorization.

Despite Merholz's personal preference as author, his piece is tagged on Delicious with both 'ethnoclassification' and 'folksonomy,' as well as various other tags including 'userexperience,' 'tagging,' 'taxonomy,' 'metadata,' 'socialsoftware,' and 'facets.' The tags reflect not the author's vocabulary, or any particular classification or categorization system's vocabulary, but the language and vocabulary that individual users choose to describe the article with.

Although the Delicious tags on Merholz's article are only one example, a folksonomy, with its uncontrolled nature and organic growth, has the capability to adapt very quickly to user vocabulary changes and needs. There is no significant cost for a user or for the system to add new terms to the folksonomy. The problem is that while the disparate user vocabularies and terms enable some very interesting browsing and finding, the sheer multiplicity of terms and vocabularies may overwhelm the content with noisy metadata that is not useful or relevant to a user."
(Adam Mathes, 2004)



Adam MathescategoryclassificationcontrolDel.icio.usfolksonomieshierarchy • Merholz • metadatataxonomyvocabulary • walkway

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