ASIS&T 2008: Tagging as a Communication Device

Tagging as a Communication Device: Every Tag Cloud Has a Silver Lining (name changed)
Presenters: Heather D. Pfeiffer, Emma Tonkin, Mark R. Lindner, Margaret E. I. Kipp, David R. Millen

[My thoughts & comments are in brackets.]

Heather D. Pfeiffer: Tagging as Metadata: Ontological Architecture of Tags
New Mexico State University, College of Engineering

-Look at ontologies as metadata, and can that metadata be represented as tags.
-Communicate knowledge through syntax, semantics, pragmatics. Can we use this to build an ontology?
-On the surface, a concept is just a label. Meaning grows out of context. Context helps build relationships between terms. (Relationship between “bank” and “river.”)
-Concepts are terms, tags are labels, terms can been seen as tags; therefore tags are affected by context in the same way as terms are.
-Can this be a change in the underlying context usage of the semantic rules?

Emma Tonkin: Ten Minutes of Language Development
UKOLN, University of Bath

-Richness of the data we get – something meaningful is happening underneath. But is it really as clever as it looks?
-Showed “atlas of true names of places” she picked up in Germany. Where could those names have come from? Village = Canada. Empty place = Namibia. Place in the middle = China and Cuba. Little Venice = Venezuela. Land of people who are their own masters = Uzbekistan. East of the river with shellfish = Uruguay.
-We can identify concepts, label them, identify relationships. Easy, right?!
-Labeling locations. Right now conference location is very important to us in relationship to ASIS&T. Temporary, though. Place vs space — just a place, or something that contains meaning or feeling. Position (where you are) vs location (where you think you are).
-Who determines the local term for a thing? Majority population wins (if you are in the US, it’s a drugstore, not a pharmacy.)
-What is the likelihood of coming to a consensus on a single label set? Is that plausible? Desirable? Need to be able to adapt the system.
-System is too static, nothing interesting happens. System too active, no consistency.
-Some variation is inherent.

David R. Millen: Patterns of collaborative tagging in a large organization
IBM T.J. Watson Research, Cambridge MA

-2003 – delicious appears & changed notion of shared bookmarking — social aspect.
-2005 corporate versions start to appear. IBM has an internal system called Dogear. Onomi @ Miter.
-Enterprise social bookmarking – points at intranet. Can link up with search which is helpful since it’s behind the firewall.
-Difference in use depending on goals. Find info, re-find info, exploration.
-More similarities than differences between groups they looked at (software dev group, corporate HQ, research). [But all the groups were inside IBM, so is corporate culture affecting this?]
-Tags per bookmark: more tags on intranet resources than internet resources. Explanation(?): more homogeneity within intranet, so need to disambiguate.
-Similar adoption rates between groups, few private bookmarks (fewer tags for them, too).
-Social tagging roles: publishers, evangelists, leaders. Does the role the tagger assumes make a difference in tagging behavior? Interviews with 33 taggers w/in IBM. (Also have tagging in other apps.) [They have tagging in their corporate directory — very cool & useful tool.]
-Evangelist: trying to cultivate an audience on their term. Part of a strategy to raise visibility.
-Publisher: draw attention to particular content. Tags chosen to drive traffic to a particular resource; linked to a job role.
-Small team leader – audience is a small group. Applying particular tags so people can see the resources needed for teams. Less active taggers — other mechanisms being used to share resources among small teams.
-Different tag use – intentional vs not. Sent emails and asked them what was going on when they used “blogs” and “blogging.” Mixed bag of responses: oops; distinctive use; add two words together or specifically take apart a compound terms; varying degrees of sophistication in understanding how the search engine used the terms. People had a sense of preferred tags in the community, thinking about future use and use by others. was done by someone on his team.

Mark R. Lindner: Integrating tagging: Tagging as integration
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Serials Cataloger

-I’m a gadfly, not a real researcher. [:)] I like to do difficult things (even though working on a certificate not a PhD).
-Integrationism: theory of linguistics & communication. Systems of communication are not independent of users, context, etc. Time is the key factor in communication. [He flew through this explanation of a pretty complicated theory, I lost a handle on it.]
-Research on tagging related to movies: factual tag, personal tag, subjective tag (director, ownership, rating). [I think this carries across a lot of tagging.]
-Tagging as integration: individual vs community tagging. Individual – communicating with yourself in the present and future, taking past use into account.  In the community — size, resources, circumstances will affect what tags are used. (Macrosocial practices.) Conforming to norms. UI wil have an affect — can you see your tags, community tags at point of tagging or not?

Margaret E. I. Kipp: Communication in Tagging: Collaborative classification practices in social bookmarking tools
Long Island University, College of Information and Computer Science

-What actually happens when people are tagging? Is it for personal or community use? Is there an obvious community-related tag (example – asist2008). Process of deciding what this thing is actually about, what terms you might use to re-find.
-At first people thought “hey tagging looks like indexing/classification.” And that’s how they researched it.
-Form of user classification. Assumption that you’re deliberately tring to define the aboutness in an objective way. But there is always some subjectivity. [Also depends on why you are tagging — probably more tags covering aboutness in collaborative tagging spaces.]
-Fine shades of meaning between tags.
-Indexer doesn’t plan to use the document, trying to provide access to someone else. But with tagging you’re trying to provide access to yourself as well. Different ways of thinking about it.
-Non-subject tags provide messages – emotional/review function: funny, cool, to_do, to_read. Can’t pick this up just with subject tags.
-Project/group tags to facilitate communication between group members. Use of Code4Lib tag within delicious. How do you tag when you’re tagging for a community vs yourself? Pretty much the same, just with addition of community tag. Communicate that you belong to a community and that this is relevant. [Social aspect of belonging – is there any performance of belonging here as there is with social networking profiles? Hm. Demonstrating your knowledge of the field & community to the community. Will you be judged?]
-Majority of tags are subject- or format-related. (Blog, article, book, video.)
-“Fun” and “to-read” most frequently used across three different platforms (citeulike, connotea and delicious — even though citeulike and connotea are aimed at academics).
-Tags show disagreement on what things are about – form of discussion. [? I haven’t seen discussions growing out of differences in tagging. Discussion seems like the wrong word – differences in interpretation maybe.]
-Expression of interest via tagging – inherently interested at some level if you’re saving it [or can some of this be performance?]
-Tagging as review/criticism function. Saying what you think of the item – funny, cool, boring, stupid. Personal reaction to the item.
-Time-sensitive classification – tags for courses. To-read. (Do you ever read it? Do you remove the tag if you do?)
-Relationship between users and documents.

[I left when the Q&A started. Snack/meeting time!]