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SXSW: Tagging 2.0

The panel on tagging was excellent. As tags and tagging comprise so many ideas, this panel did a great job of covering a little bit of everything so the attendee left with a better overall understanding of the topic. From SXSW:

“Tagging 2.0” – is tagging (user-driven description of data on the Web) *THE* key element of “Web 2.0”? What new tools can help us organize an internet’s worth of information for our own use and to share with others? Tagging systems are taking off now, what are the issues for communities of users and for those just trying to make sense of their own stuff? This session will show what’s new with tagging and get insights from a variety of perspectives, from folksonomies to the Semantic Web.

The panel consisted of Adina Levin (VP Prod, Socialtext), Prentiss Riddle (Tech Evangelist,, Rashmi Sinha (Uzanto), Thomas Vander Wal (Principal & Sr Consultant, InfoCloud Solutions), and Don Turnbull (Asst Professor, Univ of Texas at Austin).

Here are the notes:

– Vander Wal coined folksonomy

– folksonomy proves its own point

– is tagging the key element of web 2.0?

– are we even at tagging 1.0?

– tagging becomes my own personal metadata

– questions we need to ask: are these systems usable beyond alpha geeks? are these systems useful beyond a few types of tasks or categories or information?

– what does it take to get us to 2.0? practice, practice, practice

– uses of tags

  • Re-finding information
  • Creating personal metadata – on desktop, web
  • The new command line
  • Are tags the gateway to the next PIM
  • Use tags as verbs? Buy, sell, print, *, **, ***, **** (rating system with stars); For:, user/tags

– weâ??re just scratching surface
– how does tagging help you?

  • a focus on users view, not systems; people centric view of data; linking users by interests
  • good for keeping track of things you already know about
  • learn about things youâ??re interested in but may not have a sophisticated vocabulary about yet
  • it may be more interesting to find a like mind than a resource recommendation

– issues with tags

  • tag spamming and gaming; tagging optimization business?
  • tags are explicit
  • tags are text and can be analyzed
  • tag fraud
  • implicit tagging is both good and bad – your interests change, you have lots of interests, you belong to lots of different groups
  • not all resources are identifiable – granular web pages, items â?? commercial products
  • tags as identity – who shares what and what does that mean?

– tagging interfaces

  • whatâ??s the best way to get people to tag?
  • how can interfaces teach us about tagging vocabulary?
  • how can exploring tags be fun?
  • how can re-finding info be easier?

– tag clouds are not the answer

– tagging has moved into the mainstream â??, etc.

– moving beyond the early adopters

– we need to fix the re-findabilty problem

– more than a handful of sites are doing it the right way

– the folksonomy triad – object, identity, metadata

– the six dirty secrets of tagging

  1. itâ??s the content stupid
  2. ordinary people donâ??t get tags – tag clouds have too many words
  3. itâ??s the UX, stupid – when tagging systems work, its because a lot of attention went into he whole experience
  4. tags donâ??t play well with others – tagging systems are plagued with interoperability problems; delimiter wars; interoperation amplifies imprecision; hard to migrate tags across communities
  5. rich functionality requires rich metadata
  6. nobody wants real tags
  7. – simple keyword metadata
    – no control
    – no hierarchy
    – no syntax or semantics
    – minimal cognitive effort by the user

– people really want tagginess

– syntax and semantics

– consensus tagging

– hierarchical tagging – using dots or slashes; problem is who decides what the hierarchy is?

– faceted tagging – buckets of tags; place, language, event, topic, and people

– tagging is social – helpful to individuals and increasing valuable to the group

– tagging for shared research

– tagging is simpler than categorization â?? donâ??t have to find the single best tag, just tag with what comes to mind

– tagging and wisdom of the crowds

– there are four conditions

  • cognitive diversity
  • independence
  • decentralization
  • easy aggregation

– tagging represents more than anything on web the wisdom of crowd decision making

– the moment of tagging is you and you alone â?? this is why its superior to Digg, Slashdot, etc; does not influence at moment of tagging

– you can aggregate richer data than just rating

– creates ad-hoc groups

– lots of weak social ties

– conceptually mediated ties

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  1. Thanks Keith. It has taken some time to get my notes all transposed to the web, but they should all be posted by this afternoon. I found SXSW to be extremely informative, so I hope this series of posts helps those who couldn’t make it to the conference.