Re: Of tags and topics

On Mar 6, 2006, at 1:35 AM, Peter Harvey wrote:
The problem I have is that no structure can be inferred from tags. Tags can be anything at all, important or unimportant. Topics are those particular things that are important about the object and that the user wants to be presented with to find an object again.

It takes effort to type a keyword. Therefore keywords *are* "those particular things that are important about the object and that [I want] to be presented with to find [it] again".

A more detailed blurb on topics is on my page describing the hierarchical bookmark menu. What interface would you propose instead if we just had tags/keywords?

If by "interface" you mean "method of creating submenus", the same as we have now.

Note that I don't like the term "keywords" to replace "tags" as they
need not be "key" at all.

If they weren't, people wouldn't use them. (There will always be people who don't understand their purpose and enter useless keywords/tags -- see the spurious tags on,, and occasionally for examples -- but that problem can be lessened by using the more familiar and precise "keywords" term.)

In real life we use the term "tag" to refer to all sorts of labels for objects (prices, warnings, sizes, etc). Perhaps "labels" would be a better term? But not keen on "keywords".

In the ontological sense, "tag" is merely a Web-2.0-ese synonym for "keyword". That's why I prefer the latter: it means the same, is more familiar, and is more obvious about expecting words rather than phrases (which is necessary for the interface to be simple enough for most people to bother with, i.e. a single text field).

Matthew Paul Thomas

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