Tag talk

June 29, 2007 § Leave a comment

If I’m honest my tagging habits could  best be described as haphazard, on Flickr I sometimes tag my pics if I have the time and the head space, but sometimes it doesn’t even occur to me to do so. Social bookmarking sites are brilliant but so far I haven’t really become usefully dedicated to any – more often than not I lazily use my browser to bookmark, not really in the community spirit of things but it’s force of habit I guess. I do however use social bookmarking sites for research purposes, taking advantage of the resources created by those who are putting in the time to build and maintain great lists. For this blog my original choice of wording for tags was more for personal organisation of information than anything else. Almost a year on things have evolved, more posts have been added and I’d like to search my content using wider criteria, also it’s clear that others are occassionally reading ‘making conversation’ and I feel obliged to provide a clearer map of what’s within the blog.

I see how incredibly useful tagging is, especially folksonomic tagging in revealing objects that may have previously been hidden to visitors by more formal curatorial language. However the more I learn about how we tag the more I realise how many objects are hidden all over again by what might be called poor tagging practice. Words being misspelt, strangly grouped, split by plural or singular usage, synonyms, the list goes on. The wonderful payoff of not controlling how objects are tagged by individuals is the serendipitous element of each search, you can land in places you never knew existed and be inspired to find out more about stuff you didn’t even know interested you. Also, if you find another who tags like you then chances are you’ve made a valuable connection to that may broaden your horizons even further.  As much as I would like folksonomies to be more reliable it’s obvious that if we try to control the way we tag then some of the magic may disappear and we’ll head right back into the more authoritarian classification methods that negate the creative opportunities free tagging has given us. 

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