Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Information overload!

I've done virtually nothing all day but tag items for our bookmarking/metadata assignment. It's been interesting to skim so many different articles about libraries and digital culture, but tagging them feels a bit arbitrary; it's making me aware that even the same librarian might not tag items uniformly. And even small differences in tagging might limit a search. For example, a savvy researcher would do well to look up both the tags "digital libraries" and "digital library," or perhaps use the search term " 'digital libraries' OR 'digital library'." Of course, I realize that smart search engines (like Google) can adjust for these small discrepancies, but could a search engine also retrieve the tag "classification of information" if you only look up "data categorization"?

During this assignment I've been having unfortunate flashbacks to a week-long job I took in college (a single week was more than enough) as a data enterer. Nothing could be more boring than simple data entry -- insert disk; enter predesignated keypad code; eject disk -- it was like factory work. At least in this case I've been dealing with engaging content, searching according to my own interests, and making informed decisions about labeling and organization. Still, I admit that this assignment has given me stabs of anxiety: are certain types of library work uncomfortably close to data entry?

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