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tag, you’re it

January 27, 2010

I truly intended to write about tagging and folksomonies last week when it would have been appropriate to syllabus and readings. Instead I’ve been tagging (not just evomlit related tagging either) and in the process thinking of my own personal tagging history, all the places I’ve come to tag, tags vs folders – aggregating, bookmarking.

I started with a Delicious account some years back, mostly as a reaction to having lost the big fat bookmarks file on my hard drive. Later I got back that file and imported it to delicious. Not only did my tagging leave a lot to be desired, I’d forget to do it at all way too often. Looking at old bookmarks now, I often wonder why I tagged them as I did. Better that though than untagged. Catching up on back tagging is tedious. I went “off” using Delicious for a while.

By the time I returned to online bookmarking, I’d been blogging for a few years. Tags there too, although I must confess to not having learned my lesson. I came to blog tagging belatedly. This time the task of back tagging a blog burned the necessity of tag-as-you-go into my brain ~ and with it better tagging habits, which carried over to other tagging areas.

Those include gmail, where it is the primary mode of organizing, feed readers, twitter and sure a few more that have slipped my. The Google feed reed reader also organizes by tagging, or rather tagging + folders created by primary tags that categorize the feed but with the option of adding tags to individual items.

Cut to the chase: there’s a cumulative (dare I say aggregating?) effect at work here and well as an evolutionary one. My tag use is evolving. I doubt the trajectory is the same for all users of apps with tagging. In evolution, form follows function, which is not the same for every tag user. My own tags got better as my tagging evolved from aide memoire keywords to a filing system I eventually came to prefer to folders. Tag collections, each with its own url is such a giant leap forward from the ubiquitous static links page ~ so web 1.0. Now I am exploring Diigo and still need to work more on the sharing/ collaborative parts.

No doubt symptomatic of procrastination, I even started writing about e-portfolios and blogging v. microblogging for week 3. I stopped myself, cut the passage and pasted it to a new blog post that I save in drafts. Hopefully, having twice as many posts in drafts as published will encourage me to complete and publish this one.


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  1. Vanessa Vaile permalink

    Using <a rel="nofollow" href="; target="_blank"></a>, I reblog posts from EVO 2010 Multiliteracies workshop to my own blog on computer mediated writing and language. Writing a brief intro note led me to notice that my post reflects a more from a singular and personal perspective rather than the prescriptive by implication focus of collaborative and classroom perspectives. That is to say, more about just tagging and less about the essentially collaborative enterprise of tagging creating folksomonies, aka "shared metadata."<br><br>This article (already bookmarked on Diigo by one of us), "<a rel="nofollow" href="; target="_blank">Folksonomies – Cooperative Classification and Communication Through Shared Metadata</a>," covers the cooperative angle – as clearly signaled by the title.<br><br>Of course, tags that match other people’s tags make searches not just easier but possible, but naming also speaks to how we think about, classify, things, ideas, pages, etc. Maybe there is something to be said for not starting out too dependent on the words and categories of others but instead coming to them from our own not borrowed understandings, not just receiving but negotiating meanings.

  2. Michael Shade permalink

    Vanessa – I think your last paragraph points up some of the issues raised by tagging. Everyone has their own criteria, everyone interprets significance in their own way, and this applies equally to those posting material and those looking for it.<br><br>Using Search Engines – how do we construe a search term that will offer up a high proportion of replies that are relevant to our own query, and conversely a low proportion that are not? Similarly, how do we construe tags that will enable others to locate our material, given that they don’t know it’s there and are ‘guessing’ at appropriate search terms?<br><br>I wrote about some of my own experiences with tagging in a post for last year’s Multiliteracies course: <a rel="nofollow" href="; target="_blank">Snowdrop or snowdrops?</a> I’ve just re-read it and I think my experience over the past 12 months just confirms what I thought then.<br><br>And thanks for picking out the Folksonomies article, which I hadn’t come across.

  3. Vanessa Vaile permalink

    The bulk edit tool is very handy for tag housekeeping on a limited scale. The thought of tidying up after a cast of thousands is off-putting to say the least. However, small projects are a different matter. For example, I am using tag urls to promote readers at a local poetry event. I had already bookmarked number of featured readers and press articles about past picnics. Now I am adding to them, bringing tags into compliance, etc. Tagging lets me sort by reader, current year, etc. All event (Poets &amp; Writers Picnic) related tags ~ <a rel="nofollow" href="; target="_blank"></a&gt;; all featured readers (so far) at this year’s event, <a rel="nofollow" href="; target="_blank"></a&gt;.<br><br>I also have a fairly comprehensive collection of links about the community I live in and blog that is handy to send people who ask for more information about the town and is also published on several local links list. <a rel="nofollow" href="; target="_blank"></a><br><br>Btw students and other interested parties can subscribe to tag feeds, which, from the teaching perspective, would be an efficient way to deliver online handouts by having student subscribe to the feed.<br><br>As for the problem of exploring everything I’ve filed, I don’t have an answer for that one. Immortality, perhaps? I do find myself going back periodically to explore links, sometimes a time capsule effect and other times a self-reflection exercise to see what you were interested 4-5 years back and what you continue to be interested in.

  4. Nina Liakos permalink

    My tagging is evolving in a somewhat similar manner to yours; viz., at first not happening, then happening very sporadically, now slowly becoming a habit. Thankfully, Delicious brings up my various similar tags when I start typing (so <i>blog</i>, <i>blogs</i>, and <i>blogging</i> all show up together, reminding me to check all three categories that I so carelessly created. Maybe we should not blame ourselves for this sort of sloppiness, for who could possibly remember every tag one has created?<br><br>A bigger problem is saving and tagging in Delicious but rarely going back to explore what’s been filed in there….

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