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Saturday, 18 April 2009

Why social tags are more powerful than tags

I think tags started at the wrong foot. When early services like Flickr and Del.icio.us began the tagging movement, it was primary used as a organising tool. Unfortunately, it never took away. The tags were too inconsistent to be useful and you need critical mass before aggregation provides any sort of value.

Right now, I am seeing tags evolving into social tags. On Facebook, people love to tag photos which their friends have appeared in. Similarly on Twitter, people like to use the @ tag to send message, links, comments etc to their social network.

The evolution of tagging as an organisation tool to a social gesture mechanism is an important one.

As a social gesture, tagging has become more viral and people centric. Its communicative nature has open up new ways which coordination can be done. Consider the following scenario for open source development:

- Instead of photos, imagine being able to tag software codes during development to people who can help you solve particular difficulties.
-Tags can be address to multiple developers who can each contribute their time and effort to solving the problems
-Developers now have a stream of requests through this process which helps them to decide how to allocate their time
- Through this process, coordinating open source development can be more productive and targeted.

This is just some simple thought exercise. I can't see the end game yet for social tagging but I think there is a lot of potential.

(Note: imagine if there is mechanism here where I can address this post to through tags (e.g. @igniter, @tdavidson), we can have more productive discussions here).