Training back to Amsterdam, the evening sun filled the sky with perfect orange, reflected in the greys, blues and whites of the Dutch autumn clouds. A perfect picture. I returned from Utrecht, the city where I teach stuff. I had attended a workshop organized by SurfNet on social tagging. Can we tag the sun? What’s the use?
Earlier that day, the organizers asked the group of soulfully engaged cross-media innovators to come up with a creative idea on how to use social tagging. Harry van Vliet, my lector, and I came up with a pretty nice idea. We called it “Tagtopia”. Here it is.
We are with the Research Center Cross-media Content at the university of applied sciences in Utrecht. We study topics like social tagging and many others, as long as these topics fit into the domain of cross-media. Our school has an intranet (Sharepoint). There’s a lot of criticism about this Sharepoint and for us, the main point of interest is building an e-learning environment, momentarily not supported by that intranet. We will build a tag-engine that will give the user, in this case students, all contents related to a subject, person and activities (in relation to that specific subject). Simple and efficient. And, probably, useful.
What’s the use of tagging? We live in a world in which we want to know. Public annotation is a big thing. The Internet is our door to knowledge. It provides us with all we always wanted to know but never were able to find. At least, we are able to find information easily and rapidly. But being informed is not the same as knowing.
Clouds and the sun always enlighten me. They remind me of Utopia, the perfect state (or status). Combine that with curiosity and what do you get? Hunger for information. And I believe that tagging things help.
During the workshop, Harry remarked that there is no such thing as social tagging. Tagging is typically a-social. That’s a good point. Social implies an activity done to serve more than one. It is me giving something to somebody else. Tagging is something you do for yourself. Social tagging is a tool to recall; I want to find back what interested me yesterday and quite franckly, I don’t really care wether others are helped with my tags or not. Social tagging is not about sharing. It can be used as such but what you tag depends on your own private semantics and ontologies. Therefor, in the pure sence of the word, there is no social tagging. There’s just tagging.
It’s like me tagging the sun. I got fasinated by the brilliance of the momentum and tried to describe it; orange, blue, grey, white. And also Dutch, perfect. Others may have enjoyed the scene as well but they have seen it from their prespective. They are not me and I am not theme. Phisically, even the angles of approach were different. So they have actually seen something else at the same moment in time. So they must have tagged the moment differently. Interesting.
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