The Tag Report III: Bowen Dwelle

Here’s a chat I had with Bowen Dwelle on tagging.

JW: i just wanted to get my brain around your tag posting, and get your views on the broader tagging (r)evolution.

Bowen: I attempted some sort of explanation of this in this post:
Bowen: said again, there are several ways to classify information — human top down (Dewey, DMOZ, old Yahoo directory), machine “AI”, machine brute force (Google), etc. Brute force is great, but doesn’t allow the human value-add and the power to social networking to take effect…
JW: yeah, that’s well put…
Bowen: Top-down categorization breaks down almost immediately. I used to build search engines and such (HotBot), and I never thought that directories were very interesting at all. Think about how confusing the yellow pages is because you don’t know where to find Restaurant, Supplies, Retail – ugh.
Bowen: So even though there is some built-in level of “error” in tags (mis-spellings, synonyms, etc), in aggregate the social network adds more meaning than it costs in terms of effort.
JW: where do you see it going?
Bowen: As illustrated by my own crude efforts on my blog, I think that a “tag” centric view of one’s own online world is a useful one. The number of recent tools that have emerged that leverage the tag metaphor shows that people get it.
Bowen: Technorati, Flickr, delicious, etc
Bowen: Some are pointing to Google’s nofollow
Bowen: “nofollow” thing as a “tag” – although I don’t think it’s quite the same
JW: that’s just a way to cut comment spam from page rankings, no?
Bowen: right.
Bowen: but gmail does tags…
JW: that’s true.
Bowen: basically, the idea of having some mechanism to tie various axes of data (email, links, photos, etc) together, and then being able to pivot on those axes is very useful
Bowen: it gives people a comprehensible way to link things together
Bowen: and, most importantly, it gives people a way to link to other people, and — potentially — to be grouped together..

Thanks, Bowen.