Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Post activation analysis paralysis

Scott Golder wrote (together with Bernardo A. Huberman) a while back a paper on "The Structure of Collaborative Tagging Systems" (which I mentioned a while back).

Scott published his notes from Rashmi Sinha's session at TagCamp 2005 a few days ago. Rashmi Sinha, from Uzanto Consulting, posted about a month ago a wonderful piece on "A cognitive analysis of tagging". It's a must read.

Her main point is that the tagging process is so much more easy and natural then the classification process (e.g. organizing URLs or Pictures or whatever into hierarchies or folders based on a predefined categories), because it avoids what she calls "post-activation analysis paralysis":

"post activation analysis paralysis": A state of fear that you will make the wrong decision. And the item will be lost forever - it will land in some deep well, some hard to access branch of the tree and disappear from your view and attention.

Her analysis makes a lot of sense. If this is true, I think it's a good argument in favor of keeping the tagging process as simple as possible, and not to encumber it with facets, hierarchical tagging or anything else that makes that will pause that sub-conscious stream of tags from flowing. Hopefully we can avoid over-engineering the tagging process for a while, focusing instead on perfecting (and standardizing) the usability of the core tagging process.


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