I spent my weekend totally irresponsibly avoiding all work and throwing myself into an non-stop 48 hour effort to catch up with the new Web 2.0 world. By the time I had emerged late Sunday evening I finally felt satisfied that one of the several things I now appreciated was the potential power of tagging. I could finally catch up with comments I have heard and read from other librarians that there was serious talk among our ranks of controlled vocabularies being demised and replaced by more sophisticated uses of tags. I feel I can now comment from some experience and testing.
Tags well used can be the ultimate for keeping up to date with peers and anyone else, exchanges of views and discussions, book review and resource sharing, on a global scale. Current and total information is just one step closer to being implanted directly into our brains.
But I am more convinced than ever that controlled vocabularies are still absolutely vital for research. Librarians and experienced library users know that one of the secrets of their magic powers is that they know to scan up and down and through see-also entries either side of a controlled vocabulary term in an alphabetic list. And the Web 2.0 world can extend the ranges and powers of controlled vocabularies, too — witness the beta LibraryThing start in this direction.
Research and keeping up to date are not the same thing, and that is the real difference between the two. But I would welcome any other thoughts, too.