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December 14, 2013

Are tags over-rated?

Jeff Atwood [twitter:codinghorror] , a founder of Stackoverflow and Discourse.org — two of my favorite sites — is on a tear about tags. Here are his two tweets that started the discussion:

I am deeply ambivalent about tags as a panacea based on my experience with them at Stack Overflow/Exchange. Example: pic.twitter.com/AA3Y1NNCV9

Here’s a detweetified version of the four-part tweet I posted in reply:

Jeff’s right that tags are not a panacea, but who said they were? They’re a tool (frequently most useful when combined with an old-fashioned taxonomy), and if a tool’s not doing the job, then drop it. Or, better, fix it. Because tags are an abstract idea that exists only in particular implementations.

After all, one could with some plausibility claim that online discussions are the most overrated concept in the social media world. But still they have value. That indicates an opportunity to build a better discussion service. … which is exactly what Jeff did by building Discourse.org.

Finally, I do think it’s important — even while trying to put tags into a less over-heated perspective [do perspectives overheat??] — to remember that when first introduced in the early 2000s, tags represented an important break with an old and long tradition that used the authority to classify as a form of power. Even if tagging isn’t always useful and isn’t as widely applicable as some of us thought it would be, tagging has done the important work of telling us that we as individuals and as a loose collective now have a share of that power in our hands. That’s no small thing.

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June 13, 2013

[eim][misc] Tagging rises

Both Facebook and Apple have announced the use of tags. Yay!

Tags have continued to percolate through the ecosystem after their most auspicious introduction in Delicious.com. (Note the phrase “most auspicious”; tags have always been with us.) It’s great to see them increase both because they are a great way to get use out of the craziness while preserving it in its original form for others, and because there is great value in scaling tags, as Flickr has shown.

So, yay for tags. And yay for the crazy.

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June 24, 2011

Tagging the National Archives

The National Archives is going all tag-arrific on us:

The Online Public Access prototype (OPA) just got an exciting new feature — tagging! As you search the catalog, we now invite you to tag any archival description, as well as person and organization name records, with the keywords or labels that are meaningful to you. Our hope is that crowdsourcing tags will enhance the content of our online catalog and help you find the information you seek more quickly.

Nice! (Hat tip to Infodocket for the tip)

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August 7, 2009

Tags again

Jeez, it would save me a lot of time if Keynote (or Powerpoint, if you insist) let me tag slides and objects in slides (especially images). I spend way too much time looking for that slide of a “smart room” or the one that shows business vs. end-user use of Web 2.0, or that photo of an old broadcast tower. (Later that day: Maybe I should add, having just rewritten the Wikipedia entry on Interleaf, that back in the early 1990s, Interleaf gave us exactly that capability.)

Instead, I have two hacks, both a pain in the butt. First, I keep a humungous file of slides I think I’ll want to use again. Second, I’ve started putting tags into the speaker notes by putting the tags in brackets. But I use the speaker notes to speak from, so larding them up with tags is sub-optimal.

And especially if you save Keynote files in the pre-2009 multi-file formats, then it’d be a snap for third parties to build tools that extract the tags and manage them. (I have a fussy home-made utility that extracts the text from the speaker notes and builds an editable file of them. If you want it, let me know.)

Tags are easy! Tags are useful! Let tags be tags!

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January 5, 2009

Tags made smarter, easier

Sarah Perez at Read Write Web has a good post about a service that “understands” the meaning of of your tags (Zigtag) and another that suggests tags based on its analysis of Wikipedia (faviki). These services — I haven’t tried them — promise to making tagging yet more important by making it easier to apply tags and by letting us get more value from them.

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September 28, 2008

University home page word cloud

Matt Pasiewicz at Educause has created a word cloud out of 1,000 university home pages. Nothing too surprising, but interesting nonetheless.

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