Tagsology: an information system built with tags, but with an ontologist and some technology moving quietly in the background holding the fort together.
1. Start with a low barrier to entry: tags
2. Mix in some structure, e.g. narrower terms, broader terms and related terms: ontologist
3. Layer on some clever indexing, algorithms, clustering, auto-classification, content classifiers, etc: technology
The key is to keep the tags coming en masse. The ontologist should never change people’s tags, the ontologist should simply make sure the tags are communicating with each other. It’ll take a light touch. Also, everyone should be allowed to contribute to the ontology. Rather than centralized control there will be centralized oversight (again, light touch).
Same with technology: tag co-occurence and other neat little tricks will group similar concepts together, but only when the user wants that (so again, the light touch). There will be no forced structure.
This is where I see Flickr, Furl, YouTube, del.icio.us, Yahoo!â€™s My Web, Wikipedia, etc. heading. Tagging by itself allows too much information to fall through the cracks for searchers, while controlled ontologies miss the benefit of group knowledge. By mixing the two together you get individual expression that is easier to navigate. Easy creation, easy navigation: a tagsology.
One last thought: in the long term all the various tagging platforms need to communicate with each other. Imagine how much more powerful it will be when my tags stretch across all tagging systems and search engines know how to handle those tags.
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