Serendipitous encounter through tags

The University of Michigan has introduced a social bookmarking application, MTagger. Here is Ken Varnum:

More important than the tagging functionality itself is what MTagger will allow our faculty, staff, and students to do. MTagger brings a social component to research that we have not previously had. It will allow users to share knowledge about library resources with each other, to enable quick-and-dirty subject guides to be produced, and — we hope — to bring researchers together via their individual tag clouds. As research moves online, chance meetings in the stacks of researchers with overlapping interests become even more rare. Through tagging, we hope to be able to recreate some of those synergistic interactions as one researcher finds a tag of interest, and through that, the other researcher. [New Tagging Tool at University of Michigan Library (RSS4Lib)]

I very much like the way Ken describes the rationale for this initiative above, and the focus on social connection rather than retrieval. Scale and incentives are important for this type of behavior: it will be interesting to see how well they do.
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One thought on “Serendipitous encounter through tags”

  1. Interesting take on tagging, yes. In reading the description, I saw:
    “Unlike these other tools, MTagger offers the concept of “Collections” — letting users restrict their searches for similarly tagged items to a specific collection (library catalog records, images, web pages, etc.).”
    Hmmm… FRBRizing tags? Not exactly… no. Maybe it’s faceted tags? Anyway… I like the idea. I also wonder if it would be possible/useful to be able to facet the tags based on information about the creator of the tag set. For example, a list of movies about the Civil War entered by a history major might be more or less interesting to me than the same list from a film major.

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