Tagging and context

Jack brings another angle on tags/folksonomies

“tagging is personal. My set of tags for this blog only make sense within the context of my blog and my interests. Sure, I try to come up with tags that are sensible to the visitor, and I even create short descriptions of what I mean by “theory of constraints.” And in groups (where the social arises), my use of tags will certainly be informed by how others use them. But these same tags aren’t going to be exactly the same on someone else’s blog. The same goes for my Flickr tags, though I do try to use tags that will make sense to my family and friends who might visit.”

I think there are three important aspects to this point:

1. Context is very important to sense making – people reading the same tag will get a different picture depending on whether or not they already know Jack, his work, his blog, his other online activities, the industry he works in.

2. The social pressure to conform (or not) – this is, I think, what is so cool – by choosing your tags carefully, you can show your closeness or distance from another individual or group – one of the badges of membership of a community might be our common usage of some esoteric tag. Similarly I might deliberately set myself apart from a group by a subtle difference in my choice of tags to describe similar content.

3. Same to me is not necessarily the same to you. Which reminds me of what we were talking about over at Magdalena’s blog about the me now and the later me. What seems the same to me now will not necessarily be the same in a few weeks, months, years’ time. Context has a time dimension and although tagging is personal, personal changes over time.

Cool stuff.