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Tuesday, May 06, 2008


I just read Tagging: People-Powered Metadata for the Social Web, by Gene Smith. This is a short and easy to read book that defines and elaborates the idea of tagging. Tagging is the informal metadata that many systems allow you to add to the web. The result of tagging is a useful categorization of Web resources. The book is completely non-technical until the final chapters, when coding examples are provided. Also useful are a number of detailed case-studies, such as one of Del.icio.us, one of the first systems to permit useful tagging. Also good descriptions of flicker and LibraryThing, which is being used by some library systems to improve their classification systems. All of these systems are basically about how to classify resources via tagging, but are also different in their approach.

The book is largely non-academic, but does point to some useful survey papers that have been written about the use and statistics of tagging. The book also covers the topic of taxonomies, or the arrangement of tagging data. I could have used some more detail there. Also covers the topic of how rich media, such as images, are being tagged, despite their often lacking text. Perhaps surprisingly MS Vista's Photo Gallery is given some praise as a simple kind of hierarchical taxonomy. I plan to explore.

This book is an excellent introduction to the topic of tagging. I recommend it to anyone who wants to explore related topics. Like all books about tech, its examples may fade, but it is a useful start.

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