Martin Tobias writes:

So a lot of people are trying to put a meta layer on top of the web and blogs and other types of data. Technorati with Tags is trying to aggregate blog entries, Flickr photos and del.icio.us entries. Technorati watchlists only search for the keyword you want in blog postings (just like typing in biodiesel on their search box). Del.icio.us serves up web and blog matches in reverse chronological order (and will automatically generate an RSS feed that matches). Del.icio.us only gives you bookmarks that its members have tabbed, they don’t do any crawling. Then PubSub gets all the pings and does keyword searching much like Technorati (although the results are different yet again). Google takes web sites and blog entries (no flickr) and applies their page rank to the results.

So, which do I like better? Well it depends on what I am looking for. If I wanted a javascript sidebar that shows me the latest news/posts about biodiesel, I would stick with Technorati or PubSub since they do a better time with the real time posts. If I were looking for a good list of general biodiesel resources, especially the most authoritative SITES, I would use Google or maybe del.isio.us. Would be nice if I could take any or all of these lists and have them auto javascript sidebared for me. That would be a cool service.

Dave Pell adds: “The content keeps moving out of the container. And you can search it and soon subscribe to it in different forms that meet your need. Want a personal news feed on everything anyone has to say about San Francisco? Fine. Want that to be limited to people who are describing travels in San Francisco. No problem. The poster is incented to label their content so you can find it. And the community will further label that content because, well, damn, that’s just the sort of thing the community does.”

Micro Persuasion writes: “Tags are a natural complement to search because they empower users to create structures that organize unstructured consumer-generated media. Last week I wrote about the need for marketers and communicators to monitor folksonomies. However, the online marketing opportunity here is actually much greater. As tagging takes off, the next step will be for all of these sites to monetize this content by launching contextual advertising programs, perhaps powered by Google Adsense. This will give the marketer new ways to reach engaged consumers by sponsoring tags across one or more sites that carry folksonomies. I call this ‘Tagtextual Advertising’ and it’s a coming.”

Russel Beattie writes:

It seems to me that tags should be, for the most part, universal. The question is how to do it and keep the usability which has popularized their usage to date?

One thought is this: If I say “bug” am I talking about the creature or the problem in my computer code? One way would be to do “combination” tags so that tags are ambiguous unless combined with other tags (“computer bug”, “creature bug”) – this is how we communicate as human beings no? I don’t stop what I’m saying and give you some sort of universal definition, though admittedly I may point down at the ground or at my computer to give you some sort of context.

The other thought is to have each tag point to a universal definition of itself. I’m not talking about some sort of universal ontology organized in to some massive hierarchy. It’s been tried before. I’m talking about just a simple dictionary definition out there to give people context. Think about a WikiPedia for tags that everyone can point to. Let’s call it “Tagopedia”. Now as I’m writing out my tags, I can include a URL like http://www.tagopedia.com/wiki/bug#computers if it’s really important for me to make sure that everyone knows what I’m talking about. If there is no such entry on that page, well, it’s a Wiki, so I can just go add it. I guess this could just piggyback on WikiPedia instead of creating yet another repository, but I like the idea of being able to tag something “/wiki/russellbeattie#1” as well. The most important bit is that these URLs aren’t just identifiers, but actually resolve somewhere. Like pointing at the thing you’re talking about, it gives tags and keywords context.

This it seems would go a long way towards the dream of the semantic web. You don’t have to universally identify *everything* like in RDF, you just associate some keywords. Then suddenly it becomes much easier to organize, aggregate and search intelligently.

[via David Weinberger] BurningBird adds:

I believe that ultimately interest in folksonomies will go the way of most memes, in that they’re fun to play with, but eventually we want something that wont splinter, crack, and stumble the very first day its released.

…no matter how many tricks you play with something like tags, you can only pull out as much ‘meaning’ as you put into them.

…the semantic web is going to be built ‘by the people’, but it wont be built on chaos. In other words, 100 monkeys typing long enough will NOT write Shakespeare; nor will a 100 million people randomly forming associations create the semantic web.

Nova Spivack adds: “Imagine a folksonomy combined with an ontology — a “folktology.” In a folktology, users could instantly propose or modify ontological classes and properties in the same manner that they do with tags in tagging systems. The most popular ontological constructs (the most-instantiated classes, or slots on classes, for example) would “rise to the top” and self-amplify, while the less-instantiated ones would “fall to the bottom” over time. In this way an emergent, self-organizing, and self-pruning ontology could emerge within a community. Such a system would have the ease and adaptability of a folksonomy plus the semantic richness and formal structure of an ontology.”

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.