A tag is a collaboratively generated, open-ended labeling system that enables Internet users to categorize content such as Web pages, online photographs, and Web links. Tagging lets you categorize information online your way.
Social bookmarking is the use of a web-based site that stores your tags and the tags of people you know, so you can benefit from their bookmarks as well as your own.
Social bookmarking takes you, the user, to a new level of organizing your precious research, whether it’s a useful restaurant review or a comparison of pathogenic plant viruses. Social bookmarking services such as del.icio.us let you save and store your favorite online resources in a single location that is accessible from any computer with an Internet connection. All you need to do to organize your web links is to assign keywords (tags) that will help you recall the link when you need it. Bookmarks on del.icio.us can be shared publicly, for others to see and add to their resource lists, and vice versa. What a great way to filter through the information overload on the Internet!
Here is a brief video explaining social bookmarking.
Social bookmarking in plain English: http://www.commoncraft.com/bookmarking-plain-english
Why should you consider tagging? From Beth Kanter
“Many nonprofits professionals have to manage a lot of information on the web and share it with their co-workers or clients. In many smaller organizations, where there are not enough resources for a high-end knowledge management system, people end up using their browser favorites or forward links to one another via email. Unfortunately, these methods make sharing and managing information resources difficult.
From Beth Kanter
You register with a social bookmarking site, typically a free service, which lets you store bookmarks, add tags of your choice, and designate your individual bookmarks as public or private. You can search for resources by keyword, person, or popularity and see the public bookmarks, tags, and classification schemes that users have created and saved.Users use a web-based tagging tool to add tags to describe online items, such as images, videos, bookmarks or text. These tags are then shared and sometimes refined.
When you start using network tags, that’s where you really see the power of social bookmarking. Here are some simple instructions provided by Nancy White, online communication expert and lead facilitator at the Online Social Media workshop.
1. Choose a tag. This is a key practice!
2. Recruit Taggers. Here is my rule of thumb. In a group of 20 people, having 2 taggers will make a difference. It doesn’t have to be everyone. Some people are better scanners/taggers than others. I find people who are fast readers and global thinkers make great taggers. First I try and find out if anyone is already using del.icio.us and tagging. Then I ask them to consider tagging for the group as well. I always encourage people to install the little tag bookmarklet on their browser.
I REALLY love it when people don’t just tag, but they add a short annotation of why they think the link is valuable and add other tags beyond the shared tag that help further define the tag.
3. Make the tag feed visible to users. So this may mean you are recruiting users, or simply making the fruits of the tagging visible to an existing group. You can pull the RSS feed (Meena: coming soon, I promise!) and embed it in a blog or webportal page or any site that allows simple scripts. You can find the RSS feed for any tag at the lower left of that tag page on del.icio.us.
Beth Kanter on Flickr