Category Archives: tagging

What gets me excited about social bookmarking?

First, there's personal organization. I could never get the hang of bookmarks and folders, and it was hard to remember what to search for.

Then there's social discovery. I check my once in a while in order to find out what the latest bookmarks are in a certain area, although I'm now slightly annoyed about the fact that most bookmarks are either stuff I've already seen or stuff I don't care about.

So that's not what I really like, either.

I somewhat like using to share URLs, but those tend to be special-purpose tags we've agreed on beforehand. I don't really tell people to check out my links, for example, because there are just too many links for people to sort through properly. It's the problem of navigating through someone else's personal information space.

Social search a la isn't that big for me either because (a) I'm not connected enough to get much better search results, and (b) I don't trust that all the relevant sites have been bookmarked, so I may as well go through a regular search engine.


On the other hand, using event- ( or issue-oriented tags like digitalpinay ( made it easy to quickly gather bookmarks without having to set up some kind of groupblog or wiki.

And I totally, totally, totally love checking out people's bookmarks and getting an idea of their interests.


That's my killer app for Stalking. ;) No, no, it's called keeping up with old friends and making new ones.

And that's why people check out my bookmarks, too. Okay, well, they don't really have a choice because I include my bookmarks in my blog feed for my tech-savvy friends who read lots of blogs, so other geeks can't help but notice whenever I bookmark tango websites and whatnot.

I wonder if there's a business use for this, like the way I would _really_ like being able to flip through other people's bibliographies. Stuff like that.

I CAN DO THIS. I just have to make sure that it's not a solution in search of a problem! <laugh>

See, PhD students can spend time figuring out what the problem is and then thinking up a solution. What's a master's student supposed to do?

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It’s official – I’ll be working on social search!

I'm thrilled to report that a large company has given the go signal for research on social computing. Social search, in particular. I'm particularly excited about the opportunity to work with their internal projects. This year is going to be so interesting!

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Tagging people

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 users.

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.

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Random Japanese sentence: すると、少し先に、またもう一匹、ふわふわした灰色のねこがめにつきました。そしてこれも前の二匹と全く同じくらいかわいいのです。 But then he saw a fuzzy gray cat over here which was every bit as pretty as the others, so he took it too.

No one gets tags

<sigh> I got too attached to the title "Folksonomies of Folks" for my Metadata Schemas and Applications paper (due tomorrow - that is, in 11 hours!). As a result, I find myself now writing a paper on tagging and folksonomies in online dating sites.

They suck. They all suck. I'm serious. There are a few good ideas, but generally they suck.

VerbDate throws the term "tag" around, but it, like, _so_ doesn't get it. Heck, there aren't enough tag-savvy users, so one of the 'popular' tags is "looking for a guy who can make me laugh and is not still living with his parents". There's no way to get a cloud of just the most popular tags - you have to know what you're looking for. There's no easy way to add tags to yourself. And here's the most brain-dead thing of all: you can't tag other people's profiles! No tagging, no folksonomies, nothing. Zilch.

RogueConnect's stuck with its fashion focus. Not bad, but too visually-oriented for any real depth. Unless you're the kind of person who likes only Armani-wearing people, that is. Or at least people who say they wear Armani. The only interesting thing here is that the site creator's noticed people are more comfy tagging blog posts than they are tagging people, so that's something cool there. But tags aren't front-and-center on people's profiles, and they're anonymous. So no folksonomy for you, either.

ConsuMating _almost_ got it right with weekly polls and questions to encourage people to keep developing their profiles. Then the service shoots itself in the foot with its business model limiting you to 10 free messages per month, which naturally drives all these users to make tags their free communication tool, polluting the tagspace for individual users and making it imposssible to get a quick idea of someone's interests. Oh, you can't tag someone with a tag they already have, so you can't see who else thought someone was cool, so you can't follow the links to find out whom else _they_ thought was cool, so you can just forget about social filtering. Heck, you can't even pull up a list of the people _you_ tagged cool. Not that there are ever any cool people on these social networking websites.

It's all messed up. And to think CNet actually bought consumating, sucky domain aside...


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Random Japanese sentence: 犬か猫か鶏を飼うようにしなさい。 Try getting a dog, a cat or a chicken.