Tuesday, March 28, 2006

More on that Newsweek article

ResourceShelf John Battelle has read the Newsweek piece on social search and tagging on which I posted yesterday, but has also pointed to the above link at ResourceShelf, in which Gary Price (Director of Online Information Resources at Ask.com) has deconstructed the article. Gary Price notes that Newsweek's writers have got confused between tagging and taxonomies; that the writers don't address copyright issues faced by web video-hosting services such as YouTube; and he discusses the point of tagging when used for a mass user group as opposed to a few users. I am not a regular Delicious user so I don't know how tagging works there, but I am a very regular user of Connotea (a similar service but for scientists), and have wrestled with this tagging question as a user. If a group of scientists or science editors want to share discoveries, the "free" tagging system means that you have to second-guess what other people would use as a tag. Or set up as a Connotea user group and create your own taxonomy (structured organisation of tags) or your own restricted set of tags. People would then have to choose from a menu of tags when adding a new link, rather than putting in ad hoc tags. But again, you'd have to be part of that group to know which the tags are, it isn't intuitive. And, as I'm told by Connotea's creators, restrictive tagging or taxonomies are against the spirit of the resource. As a user, I "solve" it by signing up to the new additions rss feed, but although this kind of works for Connotea (about 200 a day) it is impossible for Delicious (more like 200 an hour!). One is then left in the circular situation of signing up for a tagged rss feed. So you'd miss any relevant items that don't have that particular tag. Oh well. I am sure more technical minds than mine are working on this problem, if the Newsweek article and associated comments are anything to go by. John Battelle says he feels much smarter after reading the ResourceShelf commentary, which is a pretty good recommendation.