Laura Gibbs

The Power of Tags and Labels for HYPER Content

Blog Post created by Laura Gibbs on May 30, 2017

Discussion keeps going on at the Folders-in-Pages feature request... which just makes me realize how uncomfortable I am with rigid content development systems (static, linear) as opposed to the kinds of hyperlinked, flexible, customizable content that we make using online tools with tags/labels. Over time, you've probably noticed how systems like Gmail have moved away from folders to labels, and it is the power of labels that makes me such a devoted user of blogs, which have always been label-oriented. Google Blogger, in particular, has some great label features that are quicker and easy to use than WordPress, which is a big reason why it is my blogging platform of choice (I keep trying WordPress for various experiments... but I find myself coming back to Blogger).


So, I wanted to share here one simple example of the incredible power that blog labels give me in designing the navigation for my new Aesop's Books project. What I am doing with this project is bringing together what will eventually be hundreds of Aesop's fable books that are available at digital libraries like Hathi Trust, and I am then extracting the fables from those books and also the illustrations, building a system that will make it easy for people to browse the books themselves and also to browse based on fable types. Thanks to labels, the content repurposes itself automatically.


Even though I've only been working on this for a week, it is really coming together. Here, for example, is a book that I have finished indexing, Detmold's gorgeous illustrated edition of the fables: click on the Detmold label to see it all.

Aesop's Books: 1909 Detmold's Aesop 

(There's a randomizer there too, showing one of the Detmold fables at random.)


Then, let's say you are interested in one of those fables, like the fun story of the fox and the crane; at the bottom of that post you'll see that it is labeled Perry 426, which is fable indexing system created by Ben Perry; it's super-useful. You can see the other fox-crane/stork fables that I've got at the blog so far:

Aesop's Books: Perry 426: Fox and Crane 

(It's a popular fable, so there are four of them.)


It's easy to add label gadgets to the sidebar, too, so I have a gadget for browsing the books (i.e. book labels), and a gadget for browsing the fables that come in multiple versions (the Perry labels with two or more posts).


I am also using this system to pair up illustrations from books NOT in English so that I can have the illustrations from those books appear on the same page with an English translation from another book. So, for example, here is Barlow's gorgeous 17th-century Aesop (it does have English text, but it's 17th-century poetry by Aphra Behn that is hard to use; I've worked mostly on the Latin versions of the fables in his book):

Aesop's Books: 1687 Barlow's Aesop 


So, you can look at an image from Barlow, and that image is linked by means of the index labels to other posts sharing the same Perry number, providing an English translation for that fable, like here in the story of the fox and the grapes (the origin of the saying "sour grapes"):

Barlow post only: 

Aesop's Books: The Fox and the Grapes in Barlow 

ALL the fox-and-grapes posts:

Aesop's Books: Perry 015: all posts with fox and grapes 


I love the way that all I have to do is come up with a consistent scheme for labeling the fables based on the features that people will use when browsing... and beyond that, the system takes care of itself. It even keeps automatically counts the number of posts per label so you can get a sense of just how much stuff you will find when you click.


Right now, that's not such a big deal (there are just 150 fables or so right now)... but by the time we get to the end of the summer, there will be a couple thousand fables at least, and it will be very nice having Blogger do the counting for me.


Happy summer, everybody!!! I'm looking forward to a happy summer of blogging.


Pinging Linda J. Lee for the folklore. :-)


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