It's naked day!
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Last week I had the opportunity to hear Thomas Vander Wal speak. Thomas coined the term "folksonomy" which describes the collaborative tagging and organizing of content on the web. Thomas' presentation was very inspiring and got me thinking about a lot of things. One of which was how I (and my friends) use tags.
Tagging is a way or organizing information in a way that's meaningful to the user and others. It's a way of helping people find and re-find information. For example, if you look at my photo library on flickr. There are close to 3,000 photos I have uploaded so far. Let's say I'm looking for a picture of a moose I took in alaska. Looking through nearly 3000 pictures to find a moose, doesn't sound like a lot of fun. I tagged all the pictures I took in Alaska with the tag alaska. That bring the total down to 600. Getting better. But searching for the tags alaska and moose gets me 14 results. From there it's pretty easy to find the shot I was looking for.
Another use for tagging is to group together like information. For instance, last summer at BarCamp DC, signs were hung up to tag asking participants to tag blog posts, photos, etc with barcamp, barcampdc and barcampwashingtondc. Searching for these tags provides a set of results that gives you a pretty comprehensive overview of the day's events from many different perspectives.
I tag for my own find-ability first -- names of people or animals, the event, and anything else there is a chance I might want to find later (a particular toy the dogs are playing with, the quarters Cisco unwrapped one morning, etc.). I usually add some generic tags ("golden retriever" for Cisco) for the benefit of others looking for something. A lot of my research for things is coming from non-traditional sources, videos and photos of products uploaded by average people have weighed into decisions for a few purchases I've made.
If you're not tagging your online content: photos, blog posts, videos, etc., I highly recommend it. If you are, I'm interested to hear how you choose to tag things (and if you ever have the impulse to tag other people's content).
As a somewhat related note. If you haven't seen the Library of Congress photos on flickr, you should check them out. It's neat to be able to view these photos that they've made public. And they are encouraging the public to help with the metadata on the images, making them that much more valuable.
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