21 November 2005

Semantics & Folksonomies

Tagging has raised all sorts of interesting behaviors in individuals – and assumptions as well. Even as we track the changes in how people tag different bookmarks over at Delicious, we learn that people have started using “Web 2.0” as a tag in place of “web”. Is this because they are influenced by what they’re reading? Are they effectively adapting their tagging to the lingua franca in use at the moment?

I’ve been using decks of photo cards to help groups and teams see how the same team members will each choose a different name or tag to describe the same photos. It’s also a fun way to open the issue about sharing a common language when we try to explain concepts to people. When one team member hears the other describing the same photo or concept, but completely differently than what another said, a deeper conversation begins to develop. They then realize that having a way to break through these assumptions is very important. If they want to have consistent engagement with their clients, they all need to share the same vocabulary to describe things.
Social Tagging Card
Great example: “Vlogging” is a term one of them used. Another jumped in and corrected him and said it was called “video-casting”. Another said it was called “video-blogging”. Another said he had never heard of any of these terms and simply called it a “film clipping”. Is there only one correct term to use? Or, is more important that we understand that we’re all talking about the same thing?

I think this a personal perspective on language use. It depends on what kind of person you are. If you are precise and rigid and follow a specific methodology, then you would choose a term that you think is the accepted term. If you are someone who is quick with intellect, flowery with description, you might choose different terms on different occasions. There are so many dimensions, perspectives, filters and mindsets.

Perhaps we will start congregating around the shared tags we use. If we use a common language and we can find others using the same, then that creates a new community for us. Joshua Schachter from Del.icio.us is busy setting up a social networking platform based on sharing tags and bookmarks. He says that Del.icio.us is about remembering.

This once again demonstrates a need for understanding what creates meaning for us. For us to be able to do that, we have to understand how different personalities play into one another. It changes our perspectives and filters for exchange and understanding. Meaning is very contextual.

What creates meaning for you - words, pictures, sounds, smells....????

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