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Does this cloud have a silver lining?

I am really beginning to like using tag clouds as another way to look at large, emerging social or current collections of news, pictures, bookmarks, etc.
If you haven’t played with these yet, try the following links:
Newzingo: Your map to Google news
Compare this one to Newsmap as another non-tag cloud option.
Interesting.
Here’s a constantly updated ‘weighted’ tag cloud for Flickr’s pictures.
Here’s a constantly updated tag cloud for bookmarks on Del.icio.us.
You can use tag clouds to generate insights into Ads through Adzooks.
Wanna tag cloud what’s happening in the blogosphere through Technorati?
How about tracking trends in music through a tag cloud at Last.fm?
The Internet Movie Database (IMDb) uses tag clouds in its genre search. Check out one here. I searched Brokeback Mountain and clicked ‘more’ under genre and looked at the tag cloud generated under the keyword “secret love”. You can see it here. It’s certainly another way to explore a difficult medium to catalogue, index and classify for entertainment discovery – such a personal preference oriented action.
Tag clouds are an extension of the trend to end-user (along with a few professional) tagging and folksonomies, largely the popular culture space. Pretty neat stuff and bestsellers, DVD’s, music and hobbies are pretty popular culture services of libraries.
Is this a trendy option for user discovery and exploration or is there something here that’s a foundation for community based success?
There have been some interesting blog postings on tag clouds in OPACs here, here, here , here, here, and here. Obviously the innovations by SirsiDynix clients are particularly interesting to me. In many ways this brings additional value to the work of generations of cataloguers.
Maybe I like tag clouds because they combine my natural librarian’s comfort with text-based links with visual and sizing cues that help lead me to more quickly to understand the content domain. They’re also faster for emerging topics. Just a theory but there has to be a bridge technology between textheads and nextheads somewhere.
Stephen

Posted on: January 5, 2006, 10:45 pm Category: Uncategorized

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