Thursday, September 22, 2005

Go tag yourself

Ok. I will generalize on the previous post. I am not only addicted to flickr, I am also fascinated, in many different ways, by the tag-o-mania wave.

In particular, the first signs of "structured tagging" - specific tags with well defined, formal semantics (as opposed to the more free-form go-with-your-association tagging) - are interesting. Examples are GeoTagging, which requires you to use the "geotagged", "geo:lat=..." and "geo:lon=..." tags, and, which generates globally-unique tags (a.k.a guetags - I invented this :) that are neighborhood specific, and should be used in other tagging services to tag related items.

Would this ever work?

If I were to design this, I'd say "hey, we need a directory of these formal tags". and "what about namespaces? we can't have tag names collide with each other". and "we must have a properly formed attribute-value syntax".

In short, I'd create a specification that would use a lot of SHOULD and MUST, and would take 14 pages to state that all tags must follow the following structure:



for example:


I would also require that and .lon cannot appear unless geo.utm was also specified bla bla. Couple that with an XML format for specifying the schema, syntax and allowed types for these tags, and a cool script to convert existing XML schemas into this tagged syntax.

Naturally, all this is a must if we want a reliable system that will scale up to meet the demands of million of users.

Or is it really a must?

Will it work without structure?

Well. Surprisingly enough, it does.

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