Tracking SXSW with Netvibes

SXSW is this week! For those of you not familiar with SXSW, it’s a very cool “content” conference. It used to be pretty much just focused on music, but in recent years it’s also included film and “interactive” tracks. The Interactive track is the cool one – it’s all about techie web 2.0 stuff. Here’s a description from SXSW’s Interactive page – “Attracting digital creatives as well as visionary technology entrepreneurs, the SXSW Interactive Festival enables you to connect, discover and inspire your link to the cutting edge.” Translation = all the cool geeks will be there.

I can’t go to SXSW2007 this year (though I DID send my library’s web manager) – but I can certainly follow along via blogs, flickr, and videos! I didn’t want to add a bunch of tag searches to my normal feed reader, so to follow the conference, I’m using Netvibes and tags to track the conference – this screencast explains how I set up Netvibes to do this.

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Quintura, a Visual Search Engine

searchI just discovered Quintura, a new visual search engine interface (found via Robert Scoble’s blog). On the surface, it looks similar to Grokker or KartOO (two other better-known visual search engines).

You can play with Quintura’s online demo, but the real deal is downloading their Quintura Search product. It offers a visual map of searches done using an impressive number of search engines, including Google, Amazon, Ask, MSN search, etc.

The biggest downside for me? Sorta silly, really… but I got extremely excited in a geekd-out way when I read their “What is Quintura” description. Why? Because they mentioned LIBRARIES. Here’s what they said:

“Have you ever raked through the paper card index of a big library? You have to find the necessary letter (or their combination), take the correct drawer, and start sorting through the cards. Ring any bells?” (ok – they obviously haven’t been in a library for at least 10 years – I’d be surprised if most of their customers have seen a CARD catalog. But oh well…).

Then they go on… “But on the web, what do you do? You are on your own. Until now. Quintura is the very know-all librarian!” (ahem… Yikes!).

Then, they have an imagined conversation with a “favorite search engine,” which I think is supposed to be the search engine you usually use (ie., Google, Yahoo, etc.). And the conversation is about finding … books on physics. Hmm…

OK – besides not having stepped into a library in awhile, they also don’t get that Google, Yahoo, etc. can’t REALLY find books in your library. Or maybe this thing was written by those college students who actually think you CAN find books in a local library using a search engine.

Anyway… I was really hoping, with all this library/search engines comparison text, that the search software I downloaded would interface with, say, MY LIBRARY’S CATALOG. Now, that’d be really cool. But no luck – it only gives me that list of search engines I mentioned earlier.

Hopefully, they’ll create a version of their product that can interface with localized search engines, OPACs, etc. here’s hoping!


Personal Tagging Can Be Funny Sometimes…

tagging can be funI’m finding the current continuance of Gormangate sorta funny, and I’m not planning to say much about it [gripping the keyboard with sweaty palms] “must … resist … urge … to … yip … and … yawp … !”

But I will comment on this: the tags and linkwords being generated around the current ALA president are simply to die for. I screengrabbed one of them for you – See Also uses the tags yipping, yawping, and sad old men. The Librarianinblack uses irrisponsible and alienating as linkwords that link to other posts. I have also seen Gormangate and blogpeople used as tags.

For some much-needed contrast, go to, click tags, and do a search on “leslie burger”. Here’s what you’ll get: first, some recent images from her Flickr account. Also one pic from the Shifted Librarian, titled “View of San Antonio from Leslie Burger’s suite.” How “suite” is that (sorry for the bad play on words…)?

Then (ok – seriously – scroll on down past the hamburger ads…) you’re greeted with four posts: two discussing her work on the Katrina Project, one titled “ALA to see changes,” and one titled “On Becoming the Change You Want to See.”

I think tags and linkwords for the ALA Presidency are about to change for the better…

The Future of Tag Clouds

This is an interesting article about the future of tag clouds (written by Joe Lamantia). Here’s how Joe sees tag clouds developing over the next 18 months:

  1. More people will recognize them and understand what they do (ok, that one’s a no-brainer)
  2. more support for “cloud consumers” to meet context needs (interesting…)
  3. attached controls or features and functionality that allow cloud consumers to directly change the context, content, and presentation of clouds. (wow)

That third point is pretty interesting. Right now, tag clouds are basicallly a visual way to search for a tag – and to see what tags are either popular or heavily used at a site. But the idea of being able to manipulate the content and the presentation of a tag cloud? I can see some pretty useful stuff coming out of that.

Reading on… Joe says “In the future, expect to see specialized tag cloud implementations
emerge for a tremendous variety of semantic fields and focuses:
celebrities, cars, properties or homes for sale, hotels and travel
destinations, products, sports teams, media of all types, political
campaigns, financial markets, brands, etc.”

OK – I look at alot (actually, my wife does more…). It has a normal, “traditional” search interface – you know – click a city, click the number of bedrooms, etc, etc. Integrating a tag coud-like search feature would be so much cooler, and probably more usable, too. For example – allows you to “expand the search” for a house in a particular area by providing surrounding suburbs/towns to include. But if you’re not familiar with that area, you don’t really know what to choose. If you created a tag cloud feature to that search, you’d be able to see what most other people chose (assuming the tag cloud is based on popularity). Most likely, that popular choice is also a better area of town.

Now – think what you could do to our library services using tag clouds. Especially in our library catalogs! And not just on the end-user side, either. I’m thinking of a collection development librarian wondering which subject areas are the most popular. Instead of having to run a report and crunch some numbers, all the librarian would have to do is take a glance at the visually larger tags – then get more info if he/she needed it.

Hmm… I wonder what else would/could be useful in a tag cloud arrangement?

Interesting Amazon Tags

Some of you probably know that has started offering a version of tagging. I’m getting a kick out of some of the tags! Let me show you two examples:

Example 1, from The Hobbit:

Amazon Hobbit Tags

Example 2, from Nintendo’s Game Boy Advance:

Amazon Gameboy Tags

See the difference? The Hobbit taggers are supplying tags that “seem normal” – tolkien, fiction, etc. But the Game Boy taggers… to be fair, there are some tags that I’d consider “normal tags” – like “game boy stuff” and “electronic game system.” But take a peek at the other tags… Christian, Samay, Emily, Austin, etc… My guess? Kid’s names. How about the “First tag” listing – Logan. I’ll bet he’s one proud kid!

The problem? None, really… that’s how tagging works – you have the ability to add ANYTHING YOU WANT to an item. And I think it’s cool that kids are getting into tagging, even if they’re doing the digital equivalent of scratching their names on park benches. At least they are getting used to tagging!

web2.0 amazon tags folksonomy