So Let’s Talk About Tagging

Run, don’t walk to:


June Abbas and I had a wonderful, engaging and interactive poster session in which we pulled folks in to have discussions with us (pro and con) about the new phenomenon of “tagging”. We believe it was highly successful and fun – well, we had visitors for 2 hours after the session officially ended, so I hope that says something. Is tagging useful? Is it here to stay or a fad? Why are end-users motivated to tag, or not? How can we ascertain a person’s context or intent behind using particular terms? For instance one participant tagged our poster “chaos”. When I questioned her about why (making my famous frowny face, crushed that I somehow displeased her) she responded, “no this is FABULOUS”. “Chaos” meant something different to each of us at that moment in time. And lo, an ancient problem of subject analysis emerges yet again: context and subjectivity.

Can I just say how much this rocks. What an excellent way to engage conference attendees. I think user tagging is here to stay and this issue is an important one to pay attention. I applaud Abbas and Graham for the brilliance of the poster as well as for bringing it to the ASIST meeting. I wish I could have been there.

Tagging. For me, there’s no going back. What will the next generation of user-defined descriptors be? What connections will folk make and how?