Boundary studies are nice for figuring out where something doesn’t
work and why it doesn’t work. I’ve been thinking about where tagging
and folksonomies break down for my FIS paper. Some of the cases I’ve
been looking at involve web services where you tag people.
Tagalag is a no-frills system for tagging
people. It doesn’t really offer anything in the way of immediate
personal incentive. In fact, the only thing you can do with it aside
from tagging people (e-mail address required) is put your XML feeds
together in an OPML list for easy aggregation. Very bare, and very few
43people allows users to track whom
they’ve met and whom they want to meet. Popular tags include
occupation, gender, nationality, and location. Tags are also used to
describe characteristics such as “funny”, “glasses”, and “brilliant”.
This shows tagging as a clear faceted classification. “Find people
also tagged with…” makes it easier for people to search for
interesting combinations, and you can narrow the search to the current
city. Usual problems with keywords: “smart” vs “intelligent”, etc.
Particular problem: funny vs hilarious, relativity.
Consumating is the weirdest. It’s a
dating site with a much broader audience than the other two sites, and
you can tell that from the tags. The most popular tags follow the tag
profile of 43people, but the recent tags look like one-off tags used
for communication. That said, Consumating makes good use of tags in
conjunction with polls, prompting people to keep refining their
profile every week.
So: tagging other people is still a bit weird, but shows a bit of the
folksonomic piles-of-leaves flattened faceted classification. Tagging
one’s self, on the other hand, is more of self-expression, ad guiding
it with questions is pretty effective.
On Technorati: tagging, folksonomy, web2.0, research
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