The Future of Blogs: Tagging

Posted by: Olga Kharif on February 08, 2005

Blogs are about to grow up. As newborns, blogs were simply diary-like entries on which readers could comment. Then, blogs added Rich Site Summary (RSS) feeds, notifying readers when a new entry was posted. Still, as Richi Jennings, of Ferris Reseach, writes in his blog, discussions on blogs can hardly be called conversations, like the ones we can have over e-mail or Instant Messenger (IM). “Comments are too prone to comment spam, most people find it hard to understand the concept of trackbacks, and the whole thing is just too difficult,” he says. Basically, today, blogs are more akin to cave mens disjointed mumblings than the Gettysburg Address.

Blogs are about to evolve, however, thanks to an idea called tagging. Tagging is a software tweak that's already used on photo-sharing site Flickr.com, for example. Here's how it works: As the site's users post their photos for everyone on Flickr.com to see, they tag a photo taken in, say, Iraq, with a tagline, "Iraq." A blog search engine called Technorati.com uses these tags to retrieve search results. If you entered "Iraq" into its search dialog box, the engine would serve you up with news stories, blogs -- and photos tagged with "Iraq" (See this article on Salon.com for other examples of tagging).

Such tags could completely change the way we blog and communicate, believes Glenn Reid, who, while at Apple, created iPhoto. In a recent blog entry, Reid gives a great example of the possibilities: All reader comments on all blogs could, potentially, be linked up based on their tags, so that, instead of following individual blogs, people would be able to follow conversations on specific topics (such as Iraq) conducted on hundreds of blogs.

Searching for data will become a piece of cake. Information will spread around the blogosphere a lot faster. And blogs will, in some cases, become a viable alternative to e-mail and IM, writes Jennings. After all, we use e-mail and IM for conversations on specific topics. Today, you might send an interesting article with a personal comment to your 40 best friends via e-mail. Tomorrow, you might comment on it on your blog, and your comment would reach 4 million people, including all your friends. Not bad, huh?

TrackBack URL for this entry: http://blogs.businessweek.com/mt/mt-tb.cgi/

Reader Comments

Chris

June 1, 2005 02:59 AM

Good overview of tagging and its related emerging technologies. I've done a lot of work in this area launching a tagging web-based feed reader (www.feedtagger.com)
If you want more information about this space, feel free to email me.

Regards,
Chris

xunleashed

January 23, 2006 11:03 PM

Email, forums, IM, now blogging. Yes it is evolving. I wonder what is next. This is the first I had heard of tagging and it is was a nice read. Thanks Chris for the link also.

Helen, software developer

April 3, 2006 04:27 PM

One thing that irritates me the most. I keep getting notifications of updates from some blogs I commented on once.

Jeff

August 19, 2006 12:28 AM

Tagging is a very interesting idea but I strongly believe that it needs some sort of standardizing.

e.g. Someone might tag an article KFC while someone else might tag it Kentucky Fried Chicken and a third person K.F.C. There should be a way of realizing that all three tags are in fact a name for the same thing or topic.

We might also come across other tag problems as they become more common so some sort of regulation or standardization can help keep the blogosphere clean and organized :)

Colin

January 19, 2007 04:18 AM

I may be naive but isn't tagging just a very crude form of classification that we had at the dawn of internet search engines. Is it not possible to use google to find anything that people write based on the actual words they write, thesauri and dozens of other million-manhour-developed smarts. I can see the point of tagging pictures because google doesn't yet have shape/picture recognition capability but providing words to classify words makes no sense to me.

Michael

August 29, 2007 07:11 AM

I myself also struggle with this tagging concept. It actually seems much more invalid compared to the system of search engines which use multiple factors to determine if the content is what you are looking for where as tagging is very much hit or miss.

Dave Phillips

February 5, 2008 11:20 AM

Tags are a far more accurate way to organise your blogs and help people find your article - assuming you do it well. I agree with Jeff that standardised tagging is very important, otherwise tags can become confusing and detract from the structure that good tags provide.

Google and the other search engines with use tags to aid accuracy, but their "free-text" technology will never be as good as a properly tagged system.

Tags are there to supplement Google, not be replaced by it.

Post a comment

 

About

BusinessWeek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, Douglas MacMillan, and Spencer Ante dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. One of the first mainstream media tech blogs, Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.

Categories

 

BW Mall - Sponsored Links

Buy a link now!