Over the next few decades, it’s pretty clear that the massive archives of content that every broadcaster in the world has accrued over the last 70 or 80 years will start to appear on-demand and on the internet” T. Coates.
Well tags ARE the flavor of the day there is no question. A new way they might be applied was reported here, but tagging in general continues to get press. With all of the homework I have been getting in taxonomy and ontology, I am really beginning to understand the power of this “bottom up approach” to building a conceptual model as a shared resource and reference in online collaborative spaces. (how long have i been in grad school now?) Of course I have always had faith in its effectiveness, but the more I learn how “the machine” works, the more important it seems to free users from its constraints.
‘Tagging’, or the capability to allow users to add keywords or metadata to content in any form, is permeating all aspects of virtual and technological life. T. Coates of plasticbag fame recently finished a project with the bbc on the “Annotable Audio” project, an internal attempt to test the usability of users ‘tagging’ audio content with keywords. It is hoped that this will aid future listeners sort through the long tail of content the bbc has amassed. This is possible. I found an earlier project of his on “phone tags” even more interesting as it explored the idea of using mobile phones as an interface to tagging tracks on the radio. A dream I hope is one day realized as it will mean I can stream my last.fm audio to a mobile device.
It brings the realization that this is not really new stuff. The act of labeling ourselves and our surroundings has a broad history, well… going back to cave paintings suppose. More recently though, the urban culture of ‘tagging’ or grafitti art has become a common fixture adding a layer of metadata to city spaces. In terms of ourselves, the idea of a business cards is akin to a personal tag that can be distributed to your business network. Exploring the intersection of these typical outlets for ‘ambient metadata’, with the web-based or virtual counterparts, is a group from Amsterdam named Mediamatic. This ‘cultural instituion’ conducts several interesting projects and workshops on a range of issues, but have great page of reference material on what they refer to as Mobtagging. Searching the site for tag, you can get a sense of some of the ideas they explore. One of my favorites is “Physical Metadata“, where they attempt to ‘tag the world’ as it were.