Tag music played on a windy plain

Tuesday, 23 Aug 2005

Henning Koch:

I often discover that I had filed a link under different tags than I thought, and end up searching my entire bookmarks Google-style, which always gets me what I’m looking for. When it comes to self-organization, braindead search beats tagging big time.

As I wrote in a recent email to a colleague, after the initial ardour, I switched to tagging sparsely but rigorously, and instead (almost) always provide as much extended description for the link as feasible. (The 255 character limit at del.icio.us is actually quite constraining, and I often find myself wishing for more – twice that would be a lot more useful.) The result is that on the one hand, my tag list is actually navigable, and on the other, resorting to the fulltext search is guaranteed so succeed. Even if it ain’t quite as chic…

What I do personally find my tags useful for is as a reverse navigational aid: when I’m looking for a group of things, I can often remember one or two of them, which is easy to find with a fulltext search. From there, the tags on that link give me a cloud of links. But that rarely happens coincidentally; rigorous tagging ahead of time is necessary for this strategy to produce useful results. Closed spaces, indeed, which answers Henning’s amazement about the people who would consider subscribing to a tag.

Henning again:

Remember the fairy tale about how folksonomies would be like dirt tracks in the forest, where the best paths would pave themselves through the increasing number of people passionately agreeing with each other? Back in the days it sounded like such a neat analogy that we all believed it was going to happen. Two years later I no longer see why a public folksonomy would stabilize itself unless there is a huge incentive to being found under a popular tag.

I obviously have nothing to add.