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How many taggers are a lot of taggers?

The Pew survey (blogged here) that says 28% of respondents have tagged or categorized content is startling. And 7% said they had tagged or categorized something that very day. Wow.

Pew does good work, but let’s say the number is off way beyond the margin of error. Say it’s off by 50%. Or 75%. Or 90%. I don’t believe it’s anywhere near that wrong, but even if it were, that’s still about 3% of US Internet users creating tags. How many taggers do we need for tags to become a vital resource for the entire Web and all its denizens?

Even if just 1% of Web users tagged resources with some regularity, they would be creating handholds for the other 99%. That 1% will add a layer of meaning (or “semantics,” if you prefer the way that sounds) that will seed enough innovation and connectedness of ideas—and thus of people—that we’ll have to go straight from Web 2.0 to Web 4.0. (Web 3.0 is about the Web getting “lemony-scented,” so it’s just as well that we’re skipping it.) [Tags: ]

7 Responses to “How many taggers are a lot of taggers?”

  1. I think too that number of actual taggers is much lower; I’m still surprised even in the field of educational technology how few of my colleagues really use tagging to organize, share data. If I am on one more project where we build a set of resources by cutting and pasting URLs into a Word doc, I will scream. Loudly.

  2. Does Pew really mean that they’re adding public metadata, or does this include tagging/categorizing public data with private metadata? Because people have been bookmarking pages in subfolders since Netscape 1.0.

  3. I think the disparity comes from the word “categorize”.

    As I wrote up here…categorizing is a different activity than tagging…

  4. Upon reading the report, I’m not convinced that this data means what they think it means. The question is entirely ambiguous. “Use the internet to categorize content”? Most people still think that “the Internet” is IE. “I’ve got the internet on my phone.” “The internet is in my computer.” “Series of tubes.”

    Look, I have a Masters in CS from MIT, and if they had asked me this question, I would have assumed they meant to include the practice of using bookmark folders with descriptive names. The distinction between “use the Internet” and “use a web browser” is too subtle for the average Internet user to catch, especially when it’s buried in the middle of a long sentence.

    Frankly, I think it’s a terrible question. Why didn’t they provide examples of some of the top Web 2.0 tagging apps instead of using this terrible, ambiguous, abstract language?

  5. Like my colleague Alan, I’m surprised at how few nonprofit folks have yet to adopt tagging and still use email to forward links or their browser favorites to collect bookmarks. I also hear a lot of complaining from some nonprofits that tagging does not have value.

  6. I have never created a tag and I have never used a tag. And I never will.

  7. I have question about something you mentioned in the interview with Pew — the point about tag thesaurus.

    How is a tag thesaurus different a taxonomy?


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