Skip to main content

Why Tag?

One of the questions that keeps coming up in discussions about taggingis whether private tagging is useful and if so, how?  Is publictagging really the important application to keep in mind and if so,why?  By private tagging, I mean someone applying tags but notsharing them with anyone -- so they're useful for personal organizationbut not for sharing with others.

Empirical evidence suggests that tagging is most useful when public andshared.  But why, exactly?  Caterina Fake, in a panel atSyndicate, noted that people on Flickr get to "ride free" on top ofcompulsive categorizers.  I think this is certainly part of it,and maybe tagging is good occupational therapy too, but I have a gutfeel there's more to the story.

My fifteen month old son is an inveterate tagger.  His tag cloud looks something like this at the moment (somewhat elided):
airplane água ana bird book bulldozer bus bye choo-choo-train dada dog down mama phone tractor truck up wow
...which I know because he tags things repeatedly and excitedly,especially when someone else is around.  And I think this is thekey point -- this is a natural behavior, and a social one.  (He'lltalk to himself, but it's really second best -- he wants to share hisview of the world with other people!)  And of course it'saccompanied by pointing -- the original hyperlink.

That's as far as I've gotten.  Fortunately, Rashmi Sinha, in A social analysis of tagging,does a great job of analyzing exactly how tagging facilitates socialinteractions.  Go read it.  Also, read her earlier cognitive analysis of tagging as well.  Both great forays into the "whys" of public tagging.

I think this all suggests that private tagging might be useful in thesame way that talking to yourself might be useful (yes, sometimes, butnot a primary use case).  More interesting is social-but-privatewhere you share with a limited number of people; this is more difficultto do well than either totally private or totally public; is itvaluable?  How?  When?

Popular posts from this blog

The problem with creation date metadata in PDF documents

Last night Rachel Maddow talked about an apparently fake NSA document "leaked" to her organization.  There's a lot of info there, I suggest you listen to the whole thing:

http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow/watch/maddow-to-news-orgs-heads-up-for-hoaxes-985491523709

There's a lot to unpack there but it looks like somebody tried to fool MSNBC into running with a fake accusation based on faked NSA documents, apparently based on cloning the document the Intercept published back on 6/5/2017, which to all appearances was itself a real NSA document in PDF form.

I think the main thrust of this story is chilling and really important to get straight -- some person or persons unknown is sending forged PDFs to news organization(s), apparently trying to get them to run stories based on forged documents.  And I completely agree with Maddow that she was right to send up a "signal flare" to all the news organizations to look out for forgeries.  Really, really, really import…

Personal Web Discovery (aka Webfinger)

There's a particular discovery problem for open and distributed protocols such as OpenID, OAuth, Portable Contacts, Activity Streams, and OpenSocial.  It seems like a trivial problem, but it's one of the stumbling blocks that slows mass adoption.  We need to fix it.  So first, I'm going to name it:

The Personal Web Discovery Problem:  Given a person, how do I find out what services that person uses?
This does sound trivial, doesn't it?  And it is easy as long as you're service-centric; if you're building on top of social network X, there is no discovery problem, or at least only a trivial one that can be solved with proprietary APIs.  But what if you want to build on top of X,Y, and Z?  Well, you write code to make the user log in to each one so you can call those proprietary APIs... which means the user has to tell you their identity (and probably password) on each one... and the user has already clicked the Back button because this is complicated and annoying.

Twister is interesting.  It's a decentralized "microblogging" system based on putting together existing protocols:  Bitcoin, distributed hash tables, and Bittorrent.  The most interesting part for me is using Bitcoin for user registration and spam control.  Federated systems handle this with federated trust, which is at least conceptually simple.  The Twister/Bitcoin mechanism looks intriguing though I don't know enough about Bitcoin to really comment.  Need to read further.