ACAT An Amazing Record redux

Posting to Autocat

On 8/22/2014 4:13 AM, Daniel CannCasciato wrote:
I wrote something back in 1999 about what would now be called social tagging, etc., and why it’s so different in concept than are the things we do in a library. I think James’ post exemplifies that. We should NOT, in all likelihood, want patron tagging for our catalogs or websites or IRs. We don’t know what they are doing, and especially we don’t know why. And depending on how the system is set up, don’t even know who they are.
That’s not what we do. We don’t know (from what I’ve read) that it*helps* patrons. So why keep it, emphasize it, except to appear trendy?

It’s not that I am “hurt” by a thumbs down. On some of these lists, I have had to:

“… suffer
The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune …”

so a thumbs down counts for nothing.

Nevertheless, I think it is important not only to be able to “like” something but to show disapproval as well. Otherwise, everything becomes much too skewed. The choice of only a like is similar to Soviet elections, where you had a choice of one candidate. (True, you could vote against him/her but that was almost never done) In U.S. politics, where a dualistic structure reigns, there is somewhat more of an option: Republican or Democrat. Even in this case, it more often than not turns into a thumbs down over a specific candidate, i.e. a vote not so much for but against someone–against Jimmy Carter, against Dukakis, against George Bush, against Barack Obama, even against any Republican whatsoever or any Democrat–entire governments can be based on that kind of vague information. In Italy, where you really do have all kinds of choices, it is called chaos! 🙂

If it can work for governments (or it’s supposed to), why not for bibliographic records as well?

For at least some of the reasons I mentioned. I suspect the real problem is the complete anonymity, as Mac suggested. We don’t need individual names, but if you knew that the thumbs up/down was given by a professor in the field, or that a high-school teacher thought it was good/not good for someone he or she taught, that might be useful information. Even that a student thought it was good or not could be useful information.

About blog comments, things are very strange. There is a blight of “comment spam”. I have noticed a change in the past few years. It’s a variation on the old ILOVEYOU virus. You get a nice comment, describing how good your post was, how it was so clear and helpful, how smart you are blah blah, and then there are links to websites–and they can be very, very clever at hiding these links. As an example, I just received this comment (unedited) to a posting from 2009! (By adding this link, I just made my own type of spam!) 🙂

“You actually make it aplpear so easy with your presentation however I find this matter to be really something which I think I’d never understand. It sort of feels too complicated and extremely wide for me. I amm looking ahead in your next post, I will attempt to get the grasp of it!”

And then the URL links to a page about ways to cure acne problems! First time I noticed this, I was completely mystified. The reason for this seeming craziness is marketing in Google. The more links a page has to it, the higher it will be in Google’s search results. Therefore, if someone can mask links to specific pages so that you will add them to your otherwise legitimate page (and these comments are sent to hundreds or thousands of others), there can be rewards. This is a simple case, but it is merely one example of what is called “Black Hat SEO” which can be fiendishly ingenious. ( In my opinion, “White Hat SEO” is not all that much better, but I guess it’s necessary.

Catalogs are being spammed, e.g. See “The sports business” (article from the Economist) with a comment by “cheapshoesonline” Who says, “I like it” followed by 3 links where you can buy Nike shoes.

What to do? I don’t know, but it is a new world and seems unavoidable as we enter into the “Social Web” and “Linked Data”.