Yesterday I was on the “Tagging 2.0″ panel at SXSW Interactive. Since I figured my co-panelists Don Turnbull, Tom Vander Wall, Adina Levin and Rashmi Sinha would do a good job of articulating the advantages of tagging I decided to introduce a little drama and took the contrarian position. I called my talk “The Six Dirty Secrets of Tagging,” to wit:
- It’s the content, stupid.
(Tags are a means to an end, not an end themselves.)
- Ordinary users don’t understand tags.
(Present a normal person with a tag box and they’ll ignore it or enter an English sentence.)
- It’s the UX, stupid.
(When tagging systems do work it’s because a great deal of care went into the end-to-end user experience. Flickr is a good reference point here.)
- Tags don’t play well with others.
(Tagging systems are plagued with interoperability problems, like differing standards for delimiters and different social norms.)
- Rich applications require rich metadata.
(Or, where’s my flying car?)
- Nobody likes real tags.
(What they want is tagginess!)
On the last point I discussed some of the features people have been trying to pile on top of tagging, like intra-tag syntax (del.icious “for:username” tags and geotagging), consensus tagging, hierarchical tagging and faceted tagging. I actually like faceted tagging. See for example mefeedia.com, a video site with separate facets or “buckets” for place, topic, language, event and people.