The value of tagging, and why we should care
Tagging is very useful, and there will be lessons from tagging that we can use in bank sites, and online banking. This post at Bokardo outlines well the current state of tagging, which many think is stuck. Tagging is continually held up as social computing, yet the primary value is personal.
The one major idea behind the Del.icio.us Lesson is that personal value precedes network value. What this means is that if we are to build networks of value, then each person on the network needs to find value for themselves before they can contribute value to the network. In the case of Del.icio.us, people find value saving their personal bookmarks first and foremost. All other usage is secondary.
The reason we tag is to find things again. Its of secondary value to see what others have tagged.
The social value of tags on Del.icio.us is only a happy side-effect. Even though most of the ink spilled about Del.icio.us is about the social value, it’s really not the reason why people use it.
Some sites are tagging, held up as winners, yet the network benefits to others is less clear. Its interesting he picks the Technorati example. We are starting to see some benefits there. for example searching for tags with your bank name, and see what customers, and even employess say about you?
On sites like Amazon and Technorati, who have their own versions of tags, it is not clear what personal value users are getting. On Amazon, we already have multiple wish lists for items we want to remember. On Technorati, the tags seem like a pure-play for aggregation benefit without any real benefits for users.
Everyone wants to make tagging more useful.
The level of innovation and discussion in and around tagging is phenomenal. There is increasing talk about tagging in intranets, there is Rashmi Sinha’s great piece on why tags are easier than categories, and there is even a Collaborative Web Tagging Workshop at WWW2006 this month. Tagging, it seems, has hit the big time.
Everybody wants to know how and why tags work, and the best working example is the site that started it all: Del.icio.us.
For me, I will continue to use tagging, and learn what I can. Certainly I have learned exponentially more about them since I started actively using del.icio.us and technorati, and I remain convinced that their will be a social benefit, probably when someone begins to better automate suggestions, and tag aggregation which display synergies between disparate personal tags.
I say no, tagging isn’t stuck. Just don’t try and make it the primary thing to do. Instead, make sure personal value preceeds network value. Then you’ll have plenty to aggregate.