On motivation and the futility of social bookmarking as an organisational tool…

The great conversation we’ve been having about tagging / link sites and more has funnily enough led me to feel even less excited about social bookmarks / tags than I was before.

Folksonomies made out of categorisation, titles, meta-tags and more are useful and viable I’d say. Keyword tagging as an alternative form of categorisation (possibly) and as scurrilous search engine optimisation (definitely) also has a fair bit of potential.

But I can’t see the kind of philanthropic social bookmarking that Todd writes about today really taking off.

It all comes down to motivation. Blogs are great because of the ownership, expression, archiving, interaction, exploration and audience they allow us… all of these are motivating factors. Online bookmarking is also pretty darn cool, it allows us to keep our sites wherever we are, annotate them, share them, and engage with a broad community, as well as use them as blog posting tools :o)

But social bookmarking isn’t and has never really been the motivating factor here, more a result, and I think we’re kidding ourselves that more than a few people will ever take to it for this purpose. Perhaps this is just the pessimism of many hard years spent failing to get people to share things without there being something very directly ‘in it for them’… but I’m kinda coming to a similar conclusion to Matthew who comments that he’s arriving at:

“simply sending our student teachers to EdNa, Merlot, the Learning Federation & other digital repositories for their ‘grand collection of e-learning gems’ & simply encouraging them to start their own ‘personal digital libraries & collections’”

This isn’t to say, of course, that we’re all selfish individuals who don’t want to share. More that any sustainable or effective implementation of KM approaches or tools have to start with looking at what would motivate a person, as a part of a wider community, to contribute.

Am I pushing it to suggest that the important thing here is to centre your approaches on the individual and not on the community?