The more I do with TAGS in blogs and in microblogging and with bookmarks the more I think this could be a way to work with a lot more.
One problem we face when working with keywords is the selection of keywords. We have many different systems of keywords – like for photo management or music categorization. Also as I say “Categories” – categories are keywords/TAGS, arent they?
I know they are not REALLY. But I am reminded on the massive discussion about backlinks vs. categories in wikis.
A CATEGORY is something big …. TAGS are some small notes in one word attached to a thingy – an object. Maybe a photo, maybe an article.
Objects we do from programming. TAGS are or should be attributes to those objects.
NOW… I guess most TAGS should make sense for every object. or MOST.
TAGS are also a common knowledge. The act of tagging is important, too. On blogs like on wordpress we might get hints how to tag an article.
But how about a software that suggests to us a tag after we wrote an article? Like this one. I could assume that my article does contain some words more often. If we remove those words like “the” or does” or “wrote”we might get nowns primarily or also attributes or adjectives.
Tags could be interrelated. This is why some web software offers popular tags. Many desktop applications still do not import the knowledge of the web.
Tagging means also that there is mostly more than one way to tag virtual objects. There always will be. Also every human will tell a story differently. The divergence is not a problem but is part of the ESSENCE of communication. And what are TAGS other than commnication.
If you write a blog you tell others what you think it is you are talking about. Others might think differently. Some Web2.0 software offers you the ability to add tags to foreign objects that are than publicly visible. Tags soemtimes reflect your own perception – but maybe more often you try to be smart and try to catch the peoples eyes by throwing TAGS at THEM to make you picture or article more visible. But you wont try to choose as many tags as you can imagine. This could be one method to gather attention but it would also be stupid. Like if you want to sell a product it is not recommended to promise EVERYTHING.
Google does not really honor keywords that much because it is a weak concept for public content. it becomes stronger when people vote on the popularity. But not always does a greater popularity of an article indicate that it fits one of the tags best!
So what do we need? I think maybe we would need some kind of TAG service that is spreading over different subjects and allows people to talk about tagging and follow different taggings strategies. Like Wikia Search did allow users to vote on what search results are nicer – but you cant just allow anybody to vote on anything if the end result should be smart.
Or better – its ok to allow anybody to do anything – but you then should also allow the user to select which choices she thinks are smart. Tagging should be like we talk to our friends and neighbours about where to buy or to let repair. We may come to the conclusion that some of our friends have a better idea where to buy good products than others. And we will turn to them more often when it comes to buying.
Same may be true for personal matters. The one who may know mich about buying might be dumb when it comes to personal relations – and somebody else may have a good advice for you … tagging solutions.
We now often see voting systems on Amazon and elsewhere – but they often are not very sufficient and also are corruptable.
I also think when it comes to work on the computer tagging could be cool, if the computer would have a fuzzy way to recall our choices.
I think about saving an image would not mean to select a file location – but rather to tag it – in the same manner we do it after uploading to a photo sharing site like Flickr. I think it many ways the idea of the online desktops is not that bad – but in another way. The interesting part should not be to integrate Flickr or Myspace better in our desktop – but to give the user more world knowledge in his day-to-day applications. We get some – like we can let last.fm player play our favourite music (which works more or less well) and also we might get some categorisation for our music albums that we import in our desktop via CDDB databases. But this is mostly just added feature or plugin and not something deeply integrated.
Or think about the work on the desktop -like I want to do some work with vector graphics and Inkscape editor (sort of Adobe Illustrator clone). I then want to learn about how I should act – but maybe also want to talk to people about how to use it.
Today people either use the provided help from installed manuals, or they search the web – or forums, wikis, … and maybe enter an IRC chat. And then they pose the same questions all over again – even if they have read the aqpplications FAQ. What might be interesting is if I enter the question I have inside the applications – maybe also by pointing to the section I am working on – and then I can get help documents as well als forums posts or the possibility to chat directly via instant messaging with other users who are currently working on inkscape and might be willing to help.
There used to be a service Qunu (which seems to be unaccessible fpr some months now?) which organized instant messaging interaction. You could define some tags where you think you were smart and people searching for that tag could find you and contact you directly. What about when I am using an application I could register and with this process tell my knowledge level – and then if other users work on a project with “my” application I can read their questions like in the groups of Laconica – and then even decide to interact directly and maybe not publicly. It would also be possible to not only interact by word but also by action. Some applications like Gobby, Inkscape or Abiword have been working on the ability to work on shared documents online.
And when you save – maybe you tag something as public. Epilicious is a delicio.us bookmark exchanger. A bookmark you wanted to share you tagged with “epilicious” also. And maybe just the public tagging will save the object online. Or like on upcoming.org – you can send an event to a group. People who follow that group get a notice about this new event.
I really think that this is the future computer interaction. Window managers like wmii allow you to tag an application to reside in one specific desktop window.
Essentially all computer work is about organizing. In some way if you print this is also some kind of organizing. Its an export. F-Spot uses “export” for photos who are uploaded to Flickr. In this case I think it is not good to name that an export – it is in the old sense – but in a new sense it is another saving location.
We will see a lot more virtualisation of webspace and stuff. Some people might even not use any local hard disk any more. But they still need a place where they save data like addresses.
This does not mean that we will not need locations. I think the Plan9 way was very good – to integrate all necessary location information in one file system. A completely different question is if we would need to show the location to the users or if that wouldnt rather confuse them?
So maybe lets create a tags based desktop?