Every Childlike Author needs a Playground.

Internet Tags: The Poor Man’s Dewey Decimal System

Original Image Courtesy of flickr.com

(See? Internet Tags just swaggers around and paints web graffiti all over your stuff.)

Recently I’ve thought a lot about libraries. Why would I do that? Well for one thing, the novel I’m working on has a library in its story. In fact, the library is so much a part of the story that I’ve put the word Library in the novel’s title. (I can’t tell you the rest of the title because it’s darn good, and I’m a tiny bit afraid someone might steal it before I get a chance use it.) The other reason I’ve been thinking about libraries is that I recently applied to one for a part-time job. I mean, what better way to use one’s time than by working with books?

Yeah, that’s what I thought, too.

There isn’t a better way.

Anyway, I applied to this library, but I couldn’t get a nagging worry out of my head. (Well, duh! That’s how you define nagging, right?) That niggling little thought was this: What if I don’t know the Dewey Decimal Classification well enough? Sure, you laugh at that, but do you know the Dewey Decimal system? Maybe it’s not the most important thing to know for a regular person, but for a librarian I bet it’s an imperative.

I mean, imagine all the librarians who go to the Association of Libraries Conference, Hangout, and Establishment Meeting for Yuksters. All these librarians go to ALCHEMY (I really wanted the acronym to spell ALCHEMY, but there are several librarian associations, most notably the ALA, which stands for American Library Association), and a stuttering librarian from the Library of Congress says to another librarian, “D-d-did you hear about th-the Dewey ch-ch-changes?”

Well, the other librarian works for a local, small-town library, and he says, “Shore did. But hit’s only in Colorado.” The stuttering librarian gives the small-town man a pitying, wide-eyed look, but all the small-town librarian notices is the stutterer’s wide eyes and not the pity. He looks real close at the Library of Congress fellow, rummages around in his pocket, hands the guy a little vial, and says, “De Weed’s makin’ yer eyes dah-late. Use de eye-drops. Dey’re great for hidin’ it.”

Of course, neither of them knows what the other is talking about, and ALCHEMY just goes on as before. Except the stuttering librarian finally decides to pay for speech therapy, and guess what? The doctor prescribes medicinal marijuana to help him relax, and now his speech is loads better. The other guy, the small-town librarian, has a few more conversations with the other librarians at ALCHEMY and he’s laughed at like he’s still in high school because the DDC keeps popping up and he has no idea what it is.

Boy, this post has really gotten out of hand. That joke was not where I meant to go with this. What I meant to talk about is how the Dewey Decimal Classification has a wild little street brother on the internet. The DDC is like the older brother who went to college, got a good job, married, had a family, and lived happily ever after. But his little brother, Internet Tags, got mixed up with the wrong crowd, dropped out of high school, went to jail once, had several illegitimate children, and then became a famous rapper before going to jail again. And you know most everybody likes the wild little street brother better than the older brother because the wild little street brother is all over the internet and drives a speedy little sport car.

Sure. I get it.

Internet tags are the poor man’s Dewey Decimal system.

They classify and group things on the same subject just like Dewey does, but informally, and without the same orderly precision. On the other hand, they get the job done and they’re way easier to understand. But I still worry about not knowing the DDC well enough. What if the library asks me about it at my interview?


I guess I’ll just tell them I can recite all the lyrics of Internet Tag’s number one hit rap song, “Wide Web Groupie.” I’m pretty sure the chorus goes like this:

Hashtag, get down, get down.
Takin’ you to town, to town.
Hashtag, get down, get down.

HUH! Yeah. Huh.

Note: I do not condone the illegal use of marijuana. The joke presented in this post is not meant to trivialize or support actions taken outside of the law. The content is for entertainment purposes only.


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