Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Tagging should be automated

Yahoo PM Matt McAlister posts some thoughts on the mainstream and the effort involved with tagging. Some excerpts:
My mother will never organize her web pages with tags.

What's missing from the tagging world is automatic learning. People shouldn't have to find the 'save' button, click it, fill in tags, and hit save. My browser history says a lot about what interests me. The time I spend on a page says a lot about what I value. Any social activities I initiate or receive can inform a machine what the world around me thinks about.

The influencer is clearly willing to work harder ... but everyone else will need something more personal to happen as a result of tagging to warrant the amount of effort to do it.
See also today's post on the Dead 2.0 blog, "Ask Skeptic's Mom: What's Tagging?"

See also my previous posts, "Manual vs. automated tagging" and "Social software is too much work".

8 comments:

Walter said...

I think too that tagging procudes a lot of overhead and consumes too much time. In my opinion analysing attention data and user behavior has a lot of potential. We really should shift time we spent categorizing to a server and let it do the work.

Alex Bosworth said...

Tagging in the del.icio.us sense is something only a person can do. I can't really say it better than Clay Shirky though: http://www.shirky.com/writings/ontology_overrated.html

It would also ruin the del.icio.us community if people had automated tags, there's a 10:1 ratio of people who don't post to del.icio.us who do post, if it were automated the value of browsing tags would go way down.

Spam's definitely a problem on del.icio.us, but it's not insurmountable if they change the way the interface shows tag activity that puts barriers for spammers.

Adam said...

I've never really thought about how they do it... but when you "dot" something with the Bluedot bookmarklet, it will usually automatically fills in a couple tags for you.

J Wynia said...

My custom RSS reader uses Yahoo to automatically tag all incoming feed items. For instance, this post was tagged with the following automatically:

tagging, matt mcalister, lot, social software, browser history, button click, skeptic, initiate, mainstream, organize, warrant, mom, blog

I'm not claiming it's perfect, but it isn't terrible.

Easton Ellsworth said...

Good post. Tagging not only takes lots of time, but it's harder tdo than people often think. Plural or singular? Infinitive or gerund? Which word to use? etc.

BTW Greg, got a Movable Type/Technorati question for ya. How does auto-tagging work? I sometimes see people coming to my blog via a Technorati tag that I didn't use - say, "Fortune 500" when, although I did mention that phrase in my post, I didn't specifically use that tag. Any ideas?

Anonymous said...

Tagging can be outsourced, if not crowdsourced.

marc said...

Todays popularity of tagging reminds me of the directory fever with dmoz, yahoo directory and others in the web 1.0 days. These directory have sunken into oblivion with better search algorithms, in particular with googles page rank.
Will manual tagging have the same fate with progress in automated information extraction?

Tools for information extraction are already available. Here an example for a rss location extractor :
http://www.geonames.org/rss-to-georss-converter.html

Marc

Otis Gospodnetic said...

Alex:
Indeed, del.icio.us is full of spammers. I wonder how many of their 1M users are spammers. I know a lot of spammers that get zapped at Simpy come from del.icio.us, where they didn't get zapped.

Easton Ellsworth:
Tags are like facial hair - you've got to groom them, massage them through time. At Simpy that can be gone through the tag management interface that offers: merge, split, delete, and rename functionality. There is also tag completion functionality that quickly uncovers "conflicts" (e.g. using both rss and RSS or plural and singular).