The rapid development of Internet technologies in recent years has radically altered the landscape for human/social interaction. Characterized by flexibility, user-friendliness simplicity and interactivity, Web applications now offer rich, interactive user experiences that facilitate community-based knowledge sharing and collaboration. Also popularly known as Web 2.0, such applications share one or more of characteristics described in O’Reilly (2007). Some of these concepts include:
- The Web as a platform: Web 2.0 applications expose content and services through various forms of Web services
- Reusable data sources: Data is no longer fenced in by content providers but are now accessible through Web services to create value-added applications
- Harnessing the collective intelligence: Web 2.0 applications emphasize participation and collaboration among users in the generation of content
As Web 2.0 applications become entrenched and accepted among users, the Web has correspondingly evolved from a unidirectional information repository where access to information by users is the main focus, to a platform for collaboration in which content is generated and shared among users. The term user-generated content (Nov, 2007) may be applied here, and includes sources drawn from applications such as wikis, blogs, social networking, media sharing and social tagging. As this new avenue for content generation becomes increasingly popular, the resulting information explosion requires new techniques and applications to manage, search and access such content.
The special issue of the Journal of Digital Information (JoDI) aims to explore how digital libraries can leverage on the various technologies underlying user-generated content to provide innovative and useful services for their users. Since such technologies are potentially disruptive, the special issue investigates how support for user-generated content would impact digital libraries, their administrators, users and other stakeholders.
The article "Automatically Characterizing Salience Using Readers' Feedback" by Jean-Yves Delort discusses the concept of salience, which refers to the ability of information to attract or capture attention, and introduces a novel technique for extracting segments in a document that are salient based on textual feedback from readers. Experiments on a corpus of blog posts and associated comments demonstrated the technique’s effectiveness and feasibility.
In "Tagging, Sharing and the Influence of Personal Experience", the authors (Chei Sian Lee, Dion Goh, Khasfariyati Razikin, and Alton Chua) conducted a study on the effect of familiarity on the effectiveness of social tags for content sharing. Set within the context of del.icio.us, a popular social tagging system, results suggested that high familiarity with the concept of tagging, Web directories, and social tagging systems were significantly and positively associated with high tag effectiveness for content sharing.
Next, Jennifer Trant’s article "Studying Social Tagging and Folksonomy: A Review and Framework" provides a comprehensive review of the literature on social tagging, the practice of categorizing or labeling resources with user-generated terms. Three broad areas are discussed in the article: (1) folksonomy and the role of tags in indexing and retrieval; (2) tagging and the behavior of users; and (3) social tagging systems including the use of tags as navigational/retrieval tools, and methods of processing tags to facilitate their use. A second article by the same author, "Tagging, Folksonomy and Art Museums: Early Experiments and Ongoing Research" discusses how social tagging is applied in steve.museum, a group of art museums formed to explore the role that user-contributed descriptions can play in improving on-line access to works of art. Experiments are conducted to examine the effectiveness and feasibility of social tagging to access art museum collections.
Finally, the article "Cooperation or Control? Web 2.0 and the Digital Library" by Alexey Maslov, Adam Mikeal and John Leggett argues that digital libraries must adopt a broader concept of interoperability that embraces openness and cooperation as defined by Web 2.0 concepts. They present a case study of a collection (Geologic Atlas of the United States) within the Texas A&M University Libraries institutional repository, and show how this collection was enhanced by adopting principles of Web 2.0 cooperation.