February 2, 2005

Tagging Up: Buzzmeme of the Moment This Month

Cluetrainer David Weinberger of Joho the Blog asked for some help on a presentation he gave last night. It concerned the Web's Next-Big-Thing-Right-Now, tags. Yup, tags. Social software. Folksonomies. Tag this, tag that. Be del.icio.us. Get Furled. Tag for Technorati. The Tag is the piping hot buzzmeme of the moment. Tag, you're it.

Weinberger asks: "....then I go into tags. And it all falls apart exactly where it needs to get interesting: Beyond making things easier to find, what are the likely/possible social effects of tags?"

I found this request too late to help, but it set me to thinking. Here are some random thoughts on the life-cycle of tags.

Given the speed at which tags are catchng on, there's a chance they will just burn themselves out in a reasonably shot time, or at the least fade into the deeper armature of the web. Jumble Tag Sales are a distinct possibility.

As for tag spam, I've already seen del.icio.us spam just last night, so this will probably proliferate until tag spam killers come along. The overwhelming of del.icio.us with porn tags will tell you when this happens. Tag Spammers (Excuse me, "Tag Optimizers") vs. BlackTagListers, coming right up.

As to the overarching online effect of tags, that's already clear: Beyond the use as a kind of online anywhere bookmarks function, the greater social function of tags is as attention aggregators. Tagging attracts tags, and tags attract tagging. After a certain point a critical mass is reached and the page pointed to assumes a kind of stasis on the popular page. Its scroll rate becomes vastly slower than the main del.icio.us page's scroll rate. That's why the "recently" element on del.icio.us/popular is so important.

del.icio.us/popular is already the main GoTo page for seeing what's hot on the web. css Zen Garden: The Beauty in CSS Design, 43 Folders, and Flickr! have been living there for months.

I look for a del.icio.us/popular zeitgiest page or tool any time now. In fact, the sheer fact that I expect one means there probably already is one. One enterprising soul has written a bookmarklet that pops open tagging pages for del.icio.us, Furl, Frassle, Connotea, and Bag of Urls. [ Delicious Furled Tea Bookmarklet Maker ]. I guess that's for people who just can't have enough backups.

The other distinct possibility is that pages on del.icio.us/popular become so popular that they inhabit that zone for extremely long periods of time. There will probably be a need for some kind of timer so that they will spool off.

Of course, a del.icio.us flashmob could, it seems to me, spoof the popular page for a long, long time.

"Flashmobs?" Weren't they the hot buzzmeme of the moment just a moment ago?

Posted by Vanderleun at February 2, 2005 9:39 PM
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