Conference Notes

Notes on "Bottom-up All the Way Down: How Tags Help Businesses Organize"

Thomas (Tom) Vander Wal from InfoCloud Solutions presented. Tom also writes a blog.

What is a tag?
– they’ve been around for a long time, back since IBM Magdelan (?) … but there wasn’t a network.
– then CompuServe … but it didn’t work too well.
– from 2001, started to pop-up on the Web for annotating URLs, but it paid no attention to the identity of the person.
– from 2003, del.icio.us worked well, it pays attention to identity, and it’s doing it right / well
– definition … simple data/metadata externally applied to an object … used for sorting … a hook for aggregation … provides identifier and/or description
– Tom coined the term “folksonomy” to describe personally generated tags

Folksonomy vs. taxonomy:
– tagging prior to folksonomy = object + metadata
– with folksonomy, it is = object + metadata + identity
– metadata and identity show “vocabulary”
– object and identity show “interest”
– object and metadata show “definition”
– within a community, you can see community culture between items
– and it’s easy to find others with similar interests

Is it one or both?
– you can make the taxonomy smarter through the use of folksonomy … what are people calling things? where are the gaps?
– Jennifer Trant, “70% of folksonomy tag terms are not in the taxonomy”

What’s the value of tagging for business?
– there are some tensions. Eg, naming control vs. people’s vocabulary; sample groups vs. every perspective; known value for taxonomy vs. unproven value for folksonomy; consistency vs. emergence
– variety of places for tagging implementations
– … the intranet (where there isn’t much money spent, where people can tag the material they’ve found, and then can help others find the information much easier)
– … business to business tagging … you can call things with the same name that customers use
– … on the public Internet … tagging provides an improved understanding of customers; it shows all of the current terminology that customers are using; shows market segments that might be interested in your products … for targeted marketing; improved re-findability; understand context; … and more. Overall … it provides an efficient way of generating metadata.

Some of the challenges:
– (1) need tools for monitoring use of tagging inside and outside of the organization
– (2) need tools for analysis of system usage patterns and term usage. Find people who think in same and different ways about your stuff.

Conclusion
Tags in a social perspective:
– I capture, it is shared
– I hook/copy, it is a pointer for others
– I annotate, but it provides a basis for collaboration

Places to tag:
– social bookmarking … del.icio.us, clipmarks, and Ma.gnolia (offers private groups)
– media … flickr, dabble, LastFM, and Viddler
– shopping … Amazon
– geo-location … Platial, Socialite
– museums … steve.museum, powerhouse
– intranet … ConnectBeam, IBM Dogear, Scuttle

Aside: See also my article on Social Bookmarking at Messaging News.

Categories: Conference Notes