Fun with metatags (?)(!)


As Joi Ito recently wrote on his blog: “Things have been getting very taggy around here ever since I started using”

I can relate, though I’m still a satisfied Furl user. My own taggy conversion experience has come via my Flickr account (which was recently upgraded to Pro status thanks to a binge of just-under-the-deadline invites). I’ve always taken it as an article of faith that metatagging is something people only do for money, at least within my own professional context. Imagine my surprise to find myself spending hours of my nearly non-existent free time adding metatags to my photos…

How does Flickr do it?

* Make it oh-so-easy. The flat tag structure is easy to understand, and you can add them from multiple input points.
* Make it fun. It’s a groove to add tags to your photos and then see what public collections they subsequently become part of. (Here’s a set tagged with “Vancouver”.)
* Make it multi-dimensional. Tags can support the experience of the individual, the group (ad hoc groups such as namethisplant can come together around a tag) or the wider world. Flickr allows multiple means to surf the tags — like the visual representation of my account above — here’s a nifty representation of the most popular tags.

I do not claim to be anything like an expert on this trend, but so far the piece that best describes it that I’ve seen is Jon Udell’s Collaborative knowledge gardening:

Abandoning taxonomy is the first ingredient of success. These systems just use bags of keywords that draw from

About Brian

I am a Strategist and Discoordinator with UBC's Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology. My main blogging space is Abject Learning, and I sporadically update a short bio with publications and presentations over there as well...
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3 Responses to Fun with metatags (?)(!)

  1. Heya Brian. It was Flickr that hit me over the head with the “metadata will only be entered if it’s easy” concept. They make metadata so easy to enter (and use) that it isn’t metadata – it’s just part of the process. That’s where we’re trying to go with APOLLO, but it’s hard with stakeholders spending huge amounts of time and resources to define the authoritative hierarchical deep taxonomies. Those sound good on paper (and in working groups), but won’t go anywhere in the wild…

  2. Deonne says:

    Wow! Thanks for this great posting on metadata! I’m heading over to the NSDL Annual Conference in Chicago next month and am anxious to share this concept with others there! I’m hoping we can incorporate something similar with our grant and project at USU. 🙂

  3. eidosabi says:

    Thank you for the link! Kevan indicates that as he’s able to get more data from will do even more.

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