January 31st, 2007

Husserl and tagging

A very nice paper on the “laissez-faire librarianship” often associated with tagging vs. more structured semantic web approaches. Most notable is that the discussion is put in the context of Husserl’s theory of reflections, intentionality and intersubjectivity.

A PHENOMENOLOGICAL FRAMEWORK FOR THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE SEMANTIC WEB AND USER-CENTERED TAGGING SYSTEMS

D. Grant Campbell Faculty of Information and Media Studies University of Western Ontario
London, Ontario N6A 5B7, Canada

Abstract This paper uses Husserl’s theory of phenomenology to provide a model for the relationship between user-centered tagging systems, such as del.icio.us, and the more highly structured systems of the Semantic Web. Using three aspects of phenomenological theory—the movement of the mind out towards an entity and then back in an act of reflection, multiplicities within unity, and the sharing of intentionalities within a community—the discussion suggests that both tagging systems and the Semantic Web foster an intersubjective domain for the sharing and use of information resources. The Semantic Web, however, resembles traditional library systems, in that it relies for this intersubjective domain on the conscious implementation of domain-centered standards which are then encoded for machine processing, while tagging systems work on implied principles of emergence.