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Oh What a Tangled Web We Tag

The folksonomy – contralled vocabulary debates surge and sputter… Recently David Weinberger went “back and forth” on this:

This is the promise and the risk of folksonomies. Folksonomies arise when people are tagging objects (Web pages, photos, etc.) in public. If you want something to be found by others, you’ll choose the most popular tag. That adds yet more momentum to that tag. And before you know it, most people tag posts about PC Forum as “pcforum05,” not “pcf”, “pcf05” or “Esther’s thang.” Folksonomies are bottom-up controlled vocabularies.

A common assumption in this discussions is that the aim of tagging is the action of many to try and organize the un-organizable (web content). I see many more variations, and the success of flickr points to the important of tags but perhaps smaller groups of people aiming to tag a more discrete set of content. So what if my choice of a tag doe snot match up to what 96% of the tagging population uses– if it is important to me, or useful to a group I work with, then things are good. When I tag my photos with “flowers” it is to help me find pictures of my own desert flower photos, and I may use that to send a slide show or to syndicate the images to some other page… here I am not tagging to organize the rest of the net, just my tiny corner.

For another project, my own simple 3 tag structure allows my to use flickr to populate different areas of a web site.

My wayward point is when we tag, we are not necessarily trying to chart the entire internet, just stuff that is relevant.

And Weinberger gets to it in his following post on 2×2 folksonomies by trying to put the tagging services in a 2 day axis of public vs private tags on one axis, and tagging “my stuff” vs “everyone’s stuff” on another, and that helps clarify that there is not just simple, all inclusive “tagging”.

And the field is getting crowded. There is a new del.icio.us look alike, del.irio.us (and are we soon to see de.siro.us, de.mentio.us, de.liveran.ce (plays banjo music while you tag, “Tag like a pig!”?? ) and an open source Scuttle… who, of any of these, will rise to be the Google of social bookmark sites?

Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.