Sunday, October 23, 2005

TagClouds: What if OPACs allowed a "Browse by Tags" feature?

I was suitably impressed the first time I saw how Tags were organised and presented from (this was quite some time ago). What impressed me was the simple combination of:
  1. Arranging the words and terms in one paragraph, and
  2. Varying the font-sizes to represent the popularity of a keyword/ tag.
Alone by themselves, aspect (1) and (2) was nothing fancy. But combine them and you get a simple and compact visual presentation.

Recently, I was introduced to Lee, who maintains a site I came to his "Browse by Keyword" page. First time I've seen this arrangement used outside; thought it was a good idea and wanted to try it out for my blog.

Thanks to Kevin, whom I emailed to ask how this could be done, he introduced me to I signed up and quickly created my own Browse by Keyword url. You can also incorporate the cloud into the blog rather than a URL (instructions in the "Implementation Guide" section when you sign in).

Suggestions for TagCloud:
  • Allow for longer 'Cloud names' (you might notice that my tagcloud URL is missing a "G");
  • When creating clouds, create another option for user to specify the tags that go into the cloud. Currently, the cloud is automatically generated so it doesn't give me control over what terms to specify (other than specifying drop-words).

Then it hit me -- why not do the same for library online catalogues (OPACs) or websites? For instance:
  • Allow the user to Browse by Keywords presented in a 'tag cloud' (this is in addition to the typical listing of keywords/ subject categories)
  • Also, for the alphabetical listing of keywords/ subject categories, vary the font-size for popular tags

I'm going to throw this suggestion to my colleagues and see what they think. If you know of any library website (not librarian blogs) that has implemented the above features, let me know.

Tag: ,


  1. Hey Ivan, here's more useful information for you about

  2. Hey Ivan!
    I'm excited that TwinF could be some inspiration for you... :)

  3. Tagclouds are extremely useful, but I'm not sure how relevant they would be in a library database setting.

    More importantly, how exactly does NLB determine the "keywords" (ie tags) for each book? If I look up "Animal Farm", for example, would it have tags such as "fiction", "communism", "satire", "anthropomorphic", etc?

  4. For some strange reason, other bloggers started to pick up on TagCloud just after you asked about it (even thought it's been out for a while)... now this guy even figured out how to customize the look of TagCloud to fit your needs. Take a look at his instructions here.

  5. Yee Lin10:27 pm

    Came across this mockup of an OPAC screen using tags and thought you might be interested. It was done with the Library 2.0 concept in mind.

  6. Yee Lin10:43 pm

    Forgot to add the link.


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