David Weinberger picks up on an older post from Tom Coates at Plasticbag on tagging – which leads to an interesting conversation over at many-to-many (disclosure – I accepted to join Corante as a partner – more on that later).
As a reminder – the original post posits that tags for blogs change over time for three reasons:
- the content changes
- people start using new terms (i.e., Ajax) to describe things
- it is a reflection of the fact that people tag differently – and that their tagging habits change over time (which I guess could also mean that your readership is shifting)
Tom further elaborates on that last point by identifying two different types of taggers – those that tag as an act of filing and those that use tags as annotations (much like when you tag Flickr photos).
David thinks that most people do both. They file (or folder) when they do it for themselves and they tag when they want to contribute to a social tagstream.
I agree with the fact that most people have multiple tagging behaviors depending on what they’re doing. But I also think that there are more than two tagging behaviors. Some do tag as an act of filing – that is very much how you use your categories on your blog or how some people use delicious or furl. Some do tag to let others know that they found something which might be of interest to them (as some do through delicious – knowing that others subscribe to a particular tag). Others use it to alert others that they wrote something that might interest others (much the way people use Technorati tags). And lastly you have those that use it to annotate something for re-publishing (much like people are using delicious tags to comment on something they see on the web – only to have it being re-published on their blog).
I guess you could lump the latter three together into one category – but for me they are different enough to threat as three distinct cases of tagging. The difference between the first and third behavior is also why I think it makes no sense for Technorati to pick up categories as tags.