The tagging phenomenon that exists for purveyors of information has many promising advantages for people. Unfortunately, by handing the power of creating personal taxonomies and classification to the end user, will we be better off?
Certainly one of the beautiful things about tagging is that it now allows users to disseminate, locate, and share information in an efficient manner. Moreover, we tend to rely on the classification of information by persons we learn to trust.
Therefore, if it does not already exist, I suggest that as the social software [flickr, del.icio.us, etc.] scene grows and grows, there should be a rating system that each of these social software services enables so that the information consumer can rate the taxonomist. For example, use Amazon as a model. They use a rating system so customers can assign a “was it helpful” ranking to layperson reviews of products and services. Then as a consumer [in this case of products and services] I can decide whether or not to trust this review based on the feedback this person has received. Why can’t we use a similar system to help consumers of information?
I liken the tagging phenomenon to a filter of sorts. Why scan the entire Internet when I can apply a filter and search for information that has already been classified for me? However, since now all laypersons using social software wield this power, could this filter become distorted? You bet. However, if we can rate this growing group of taxonomists (myself included), then we are provided with an even richer piece of metadata that will aid us in our quest for information retrieval. I propose we introduce a new term and feature set to social software – “Thumbing” – a term that describes a “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” approach to rating these social taxonomists.
UPDATED 04/14/2005 – Not sure if I like the “Thumbing” term. Perhaps in a nod to folksonomy – combining folk and taxonomy, the term “Ragging” – combining rating and tagging, might be a better term…although the term is already a colloquialism for teasing…