Digital literacy 7: Organising and sharing content

In yesterday's blogpost, I talked about why students should create their own content. The very act of creating content, whether it is a video, blogpost or podcast, is often with the intention that it will be shared in some way, usually on the web. Now we have the social web, there are more ways than ever to make your content available to a vast audience. But how do you share in such a way that makes it visible to the web? Answer - you organise it by 'tagging' it. You think of words that best describe your content, and then insert them into the appropriate box within the tool you are using.

Tagging content is a bit of an art. Choosing the correct descriptive words to tag your content with, can sometimes be a little hit and miss. But tag you must, if you want your content to be searchable. So this blogpost for example is tagged with a few key worlds such as 'digital literacy' and 'content creation' as well as more generic terms such as 'social web', 'blog', 'podcast' and 'video', because these terms have appeared in the text (see labels below). Because I have tagged this blogpost with those words, anyone who is interested in any of these areas, and who types those words into a search engine will, if they drill down far enough, be able to find this blog post. Tagging will also make finding content within a large list of bookmarks a lot easier. You can search for content in 'bundles' - this is useful if you only want to see the links in your list related to 'podcast' or 'audio', for example. Some tagging tools also offer tag clouds - clouds of labels that have larger or smaller font size depending on the amount of times they appear in your bookmark list.

But we can go further using tagging, so that content becomes a community artefact around which groups can discuss, interact and collaborate. Using a web service such as Delicious for example, will allow you not only to make your content more visible to those who are searching using key words, but it will also reveal to you (and to the other users) exactly who else may be interested in the same, or similar content. This is more than just bookmarking. It's social bookmarking - organising your content, and the content of others, into sets that are more useful and more socially coherent. The blue box at the end of each hyperlink displayed in my own Delicious account indicates the number of other people who have bookmarked the same link. If you click on that box, it will display them. Click on any user and you will see what other links that user has bookmarked. Some of these may have slipped past you, but you can now see them and also visit those sites and then bookmark them if you think they might be useful to you. You can also hold conversations with those others around you about the sites you find interesting- and perhaps learn even more about your mutual interests. This is the power of social bookmarking - just one of the many ways you can organise and share your content on the social web.

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Organising and sharing content by Steve Wheeler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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