Tagging Eveywhere

Jeff Jarvis writes:

We are tagging not just content but also people… and behaviors… and processes…

If I can be assured that I won’t be the victim of spam, impersonation, or privacy violations (big if’s), I want to be tagged so that as I go from site to site, I get what I want: Give me my local content, give me the ads I’m interested in, don’t tell me what I already know, find me the job I want…. It’s not a cookie but a tag I control.

When I was at the Associated Press for a lunch recently — among a group of smart execs who will have a big impact on the future of news not just from the wire service but also across the industry and the internet — we speculated on the need for a content cookie: a tag that travels with content as it is syndicated.

So, for example, a wire story about, say, Apple could travel with meta data that allows the site that uses it to run contextual ads reliably targeted. And as people read and link to that story in a distributed world, it would be good to gather aggregated meta data, to find out how popular it is, who is reading it, and — most important — what other topics (and audience) are associated with it. This allows people to find the story more effectively in search engines and such and also educates the content provider to improve future stories.

Transparency and control are essential to this. I should control my tags and use them at my will; that’s part of the point of tagging, after all. So I can tell an online service where I am so I can get local news or weather or business listings; that would be convienient. I can tell Google I want results in English and German because I read both (sort of). I can tell employers about me and have them rush to my door because they need a me. That only works if I control the tagging and the use of it is transparent. The same is true of tagging content: It only works if you can see the tags and add them yourself and swarm around the best ones. Sorry. I should have added that.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.