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Why tagging is important

January 26, 2009

In this video, called “We are the machine”, an Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Kansas State university, posits that we are responsible for the Internet. For sorting it. Organizing it.

Just over 10 years ago, the Internet was a mess. It was hard to find anything that was relevant. Think back: Yahoo was a people search engine.Real people viewed sites and determined if they fit Yahoo’s criteria to be inserted into it’s database of sites. A search of Yahoo wasn’t a search of the web, it was a search of the sites Yahoo had indexed. It was equivalent to walking into a library and only getting to search books in that physical location.

Same with AOL. AOL even tried to control the manner people looked at sites, remember visit or AOL keyword ‘brand’.

Eventually, the sheer weight of information forced the notion of spiders that indexed the entire web. Alta Vista and Inktomi, search engines really did search the ‘web’, but rarely found relevant results in the mountains of the content.

Then, along came Google. The magic of Google was that it let you and me determine relevance. Immediately, the web felt sorted out. When we typed something, and hit “I’m Feeling Lucky”, we were taken to the thing we wanted because relevance was based on a formula that included links to the page. The more you and I linked to a page, the more relevant Google said it was.

And for a while, this was good. Then along came social media. And again, we have content on a scale not even imagined 5 years ago. I just personally uploaded 6000 images to Flickr. 6000! And many of them are currently called PA1000942.jpg. Even the mighty Google can’t tell that’s a picture of a Boston Sunset.

So ten years later, we’re back to confusion. There won’t be a software solution to this. It will be up to me to tag and title my content in a manner that lets the machine find it.

And when talking with Brands, it’s up to brands to tell their fans how to tag it. Enable the machine, and you’ll find out when people are talking about your brand.

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