Re: Of tags and topics

Hi Berend,

On Sun, 2006-03-05 at 20:37 +0100, Berend van Berkum wrote:
> I think of a tag as just what it is: a string of characters. In
> general, only humans can derive some meaning from it. But even then,
> what I mean by 'liberal' or 'mouse' can be interpreted totally
> different by other people, so they are subjective, and certainly not
> metadata.
> Tags are just little labels for a set of resources. They mean
> something to me, and together they form a kind of personal namespace
> that holds all the concepts I use to describe or group 'stuff' with. I
> like to compare this with WikiNames: using a single namespace to
> identify all contained data. This namespace could contain every entity
> I know of. (sidenote: I'd really like to couple my namespace, eg.
> delicious, to such a personal wiki to organize topics, ideas,
> research, stuff I will forget, etc).
> Before tags become metadata however, they need to be 'elevated' into
> types; classes or properties. And then you get into the art of
> creating schema's, which is very dependent on your goals.
> An example however of how I think one could do this:
> I tag something with 'Zita Swoon', and later in my 'personal namespace
> manager' say that this tag actually is a resource of the type
> MusicBrainz.Artist. Then, using another namespace, say Dublin Core, I
> need to tell it that the resource I tagged is something with the
> metadata DC.Subject 'Zita Swoon'. etc.
> When you reiterate this exercise with a few tags, you see that there's
> a lot more involved in creating real metadata than simple tagging. The
> simplicity of tagging is that I don't need to do this kind of
> structuring (structures wich might change in maybe a month). At some
> point, a schema to categorize or bundle tags would be nice though, but
> I think it's a mistake to try to figure such a thing out in Ephy (not
> now at least).
> So I see no difference between tags, Ephy's Topics, keywords, and what
> else unless they are in some schema, and I don't think Ephy needs such
> a thing. It's just that 'Topic' would be a bit better to understand to
> someone not being a web-geek. But they're just strings.
> One of Ephy's goals is creating a good GUI for this tagging thing, and
> I hope they also can find a good API to import/export this to couple
> it with other services. But what do I know, I'm not involved, I just
> know they make a great browser. ;)

Yes, you've blended topics and tags into one thing. :)

I gave, I've tried to make "tags" as "facts about the object". So an MP3
was by 'Zita Swoon', is '192kbps', is a 'Studio Recording', is dated
'2003', etc. Anything that can be written as a brief fact about an
object is a "tag".

However, "topics" are "those labels you would think of first when you
have a *specific* song in mind". So topics might be 'Zita Swoon' and
'Greatest Hits' *if* that is how you organise your music. If you
organise your music a different way then use different topics.

So the idea is that "tags" represent a resource that is shareable, that
describes an object independent of the user. Whereas "topics" represent
how the user would think of the object.

As for namespaces, I'm trying to avoid them. :) Though Nautilus did look
into things called "bundles" which would just allow you to arrange your
tags into "those related to music" and "those related to photos", etc.
It's just a matter of usability, and that we want to bypass namespaces
and other difficult concepts by focusing on what the user needs rather
than what is "correct" from an information perspective.

Thanks for the response. :)

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