Why We Tag? Motivations for Annotation

By | March 21, 2008

I’ve been very interested in tags lately, for me tags are the perfect combination between human and computer.
Computers can easily links a lot of tagged content together while human can easily tag complex document. Computer can’t extract the semantic of document and human can’t recall all the document concerning a topic…
Now let’s focus on why human tag. I’ve come across a very interesting study ‘Why We Tag: Motivations for Annotation in Mobile and Online Media‘, from Yahoo research Berkley. Also I’ve asked to my linkedin network why would people use tagged based search engines.

To sum up :

  • People tend to use tag in a social & bookmark way: share links, find fresh information, and find back easily web pages.
  • Tags got an incredible facility to summarize information: where, when, how, who, why … in a few words.
  • Tags are mostly used for organization for ourselves and for the public while we where using tags for communicating with friends.

Why do I love tags?
I had the luck to follow a course about semantic database and even if it was passioning I couldn’t help myself to see it as an impossible goal to reach… How would we force people to define their content following a standardized structure?
With the birth of social powered content (aka web 2.0 for marketer) we can see the web as an interaction of multiple humans and hope for a clarification of content thanks to tags. Even human search and memory are modified with tag, so why won’t WE change the web?

What do you think, what is your personal relation with tags?


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