Category Archives: tagging vs. bookmarks

Does everyone use a complete replacement of bookmarks? I just learned the hard way how important bookmarks are to me. I was super stoked when i saw the new bookmarks Firefox extension. I desperately wanted the ability to go through my bits in my browser and so i immediately installed it without reading any fine print. And then i realized that it traipsed all over all of my bookmarks, including all of the bookmarks in my bookmarks toolbar.

Now, i don’t know about you but i have crazy folders and bookmarklets in my bookmarks toolbar. I have a folder of blogs that i stalk but would never tell anyone about. I have a folder of private things that i can only access when i’m VPNed in – URLs that i would never make publicly available because it would be a violation of privacy. I have bookmarklet scripts for storing details of MySpace pages and a link to bugmenot to get me through most stupid login pages. I have shortcuts to procrastination pages. I have a folder of temporary URLs that i use during my current talk. I have bookmarks to pages that aren’t even on the web (like the blog of research notes that is kept on my laptop or the local wiki that i have). None of this wants to be public, none of this wants to be in, none of this makes sense in And all of this went away when i installed the new toy.

Eeek. OK, so i had one of those complete heart attacks when i realized this – y’know, the ones that happen when you wake up and realize that the procmail script you wrote /dev/nulled your email instead of sent it to a nice safe place. Thank god it could be uninstalled and my regular bookmarks came back. But uninstalling it desparately made me want it back. I *want* to see my tags and bookmarks inside my browser but not on those terms.

So i’m curious… does anyone else use both bookmarks and for different reasons? If you only use, definitely check out the new toy. If not, you might be in for a big shock.

HT06, Tagging Paper, Taxonomy, Flickr, Academic Article, ToRead

Cameron is currently at Hypertext 2006 presenting a paper on tagging that Cameron Marlow, Mor Naaman, Marc Davis and i wrote on tagging entitled “HT06, Tagging Paper, Taxonomy, Flickr, Academic Article, ToRead.” As Cameron appropriately notes, “It’s possibly the least memorable title in ACM history, but it seemed like a good idea at the time.” Still, i thought that it might be interesting to many of you – it’s a new and improved version of our WWW position paper. Enjoy!

Download the PDF here.

first impressions based on tag clouds

The other day, someone pointed me to LJ Tags which shows the top tags on LiveJournal. I was really startled at how much this reflects the cultural difference between LJ and other blogging tools. Where else do you see meme as the top tag and life, school, work and music as the other key ones? And how cool is it that rl, fanfic, harry potter, and a bunch of russian terms are on there? Take a look at the following tag clouds:

Live Journal:

Technorati (a fraction of English tags):

Visually, they look awfully similar but the actual words included say such dramatically different things about their communities. Fascinating fascinating…

articles on tagging (help?)

I’m working on a literature review of tagging for a class. I am particularly interested in the collective action and cultural convergence aspects work.

I’ve been traipsing through various articles and blog entries on the topic and i’m wondering if folks know of good pieces that i’ve missed. I’m looking for articles that analyze tagging either through data, through situated comparisons or through philosophical hammering. They don’t have to be academic, but they do have to contribute something new. I’m not looking for how-tos or discussions of particular services. I’m also trying to focus on unique viewpoints as opposed to round-ups.

I would also be stoked if anyone knows of any information management literature on the cultural underpinnings of keywords and indexing or anything involving collective action and librarianship in metadata. How do differences across libraries or across countries get resolved?

Below is what i have so far. Any additions would be *very* much appreciated (and i promise to post what i write).

feeds and social bookmarks

So i am starting to use feeds again (and it’s all Barb’s fault)… ::gulp:: The problem is that i read them on my mobile when i’m waiting around for BART. And i’m finding myself utterly frustrated with folks who have mixed their and Flickr feeds with their blog entry feeds. links have no value to me on my mobile and photos take forever to load (and i’d rather access them through Flickr directly). Can folks who mix the feeds explain why they do this to me? (The only reason that i can think of is that people want to give the perception that they are posting/linking more.)

I also realized that i want a different interface for interacting with feeds of links. I want the social-network blogdex version of social bookmarks. I want to see the most popular links from the feeds i read in a temporal pattern (maybe even with a nice slider like in my Flickr viewer so i can see the list change over time as collective validation happens). I want to see patterns that are not easy to detect when they’re amidst a bunch of different feeds (that i end up scanning and not really reading anyhow). And then, when i’ve read one of those links, i want to be able to hide it so i don’t keep seeing it. I actually do want to see what folks are linking too, but i mostly want to see what my social collective is linking to.

I do enjoy going to the front page of Y!MyWeb2.0 and seeing the MyCommunity listing (far more than the front page of which is mostly irrelevant these days because it’s everyone). I end up checking Y!MyWeb2.0 each morning to see what links i should read. But the popularity amongst my community part doesn’t have temporal data which is unfortunate. Still, that’s much more functional for me than the links people mix into their blogs especially because i read link lists when i’m in a position to click on links while i read blog entries when i’m in a position to read.

tagging music

::bounce:: OMG!!! Remember when i whimpered about how audioscrobbler should tag music? They did it!! Audioscrobbler and Last.FM finally came together as one (Last.FM) and they introduced a new interface. With the new interface, they introduced tagging. This means that you can tag any artist, song or album. They have a tag editor that lets you tag en-masse. (Unfortunately, a lot of the tagging is painfully slow and not nearly as clean and easy as things like Flickr – it often requires multiple steps before you can add a tag and i keep hanging browsers.)

This is absolutely brilliant! Music is the best candidate for tagging because there’s no authority on genre (although lots of people think they are). Genre is something that is collectively discussed and disagreed upon in almost every music community. Genres regularly split as innovations in music occur and club wars take place over particular tracks and whether it is _really_ X genre. Music genres are highly personal while simultaneously collective – communities are built based on people with similar music tastes and they collectively negotiate the boundaries of a particular genre.

Every music fiend i know bitches about the fact that iTunes only has one possibility for genre. It makes it difficult to negotiate music and you have to create hierarchies. With tagging, that is no longer necessary. Tagging allows people to negotiate music in a more sophisticated way, slicing through the genres in structures that better reflect how people conceptually organize music. Furthermore, in the case of Last.FM, it allows us to move away from streaming by person to streaming by person by their genres (or any tags really). This lets us shape how our music is perceived by others by giving us a way to control the slices.

It’s going to take me forever to tag my music (and damn do i wish it would connect back to iTunes) but i’m very very excited that Last.FM has started this process. And, please, tag your music so that i can listen to it in context!

categorization negatively affects memory

Yo, Clay: “As people become smarter, they start to put things into categories, and one of the costs they pay is lower memory accuracy for individual differences.” This article suggests that new research is revealing the complex relationship between categorization (of different types) and memory. In short, the more you categorize, the less you retain and the less knowledge you have about something, the more you pay attention to it because you are unable to easily place it in a comfortable mental model for categorization and forgetting.

In other words, maybe all of my psycho-flipout about labeling things might be my brain kicking into memory protection mode?

(Tx: Chloe)

random ontology thoughts

Clay finally posted a piece based on his recent talks entitled Ontology is Overrated: Categories, Links and Tags (discussed on many-to-many. It’s a must-read although i suspect it’ll make some of the librarians squirm. The essay is structured in a narrative style, making it super accessible and offering anecdotes to frame very logical arguments. Yet, somehow, i still cannot resist the temptation to respond, albeit in a rambly way since i’m focused on finals. By and large, i agree with the essay but i think that Clay is missing a few things:

– issues of one-to-one and many-to-one
– cognitive overload
– problems of retro-activity
– category splits
– exponential tag growth
– user interfaces from hell

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Technorati tags

Tags, tags, everywhere tags…. Technorati just launched Tags.

This system collects three types of tags: Flickr tags, tags and “category” tags on blog posts. (Unlike Flickr and only the author can tag blog posts.)

It’s definitely in early beta and there aren’t that many posts that are tagged. This is probably because most people don’t categorize (if their tool even lets them) and they didn’t include LJ/Xanga moods as tags. Herein is another reminder of differentiating similarities. Some of you may be looking for all blog posts on ‘blogging’ but some may want to find all entries marked as ‘giggly’… This would be super useful in the friends of friends context.

(Of course, i’m still terrible at categorizing my posts because it takes far too much work.)