Thursday, March 10, 2005

Getting my brain around folksonomies

I'm not even sure I spelled that right...

Anyway, I've been trying to figure out how Marnie's tagging experiment, as well as her recursive linking - could be helpful.

And I think I'm starting to understand.

First, it helps to realize how something like Delicious works (again, I eschew the periods, as I do obfuscation). What helped me think about my links on Delicious is that they are all live, all the time - and you can use the URL like a database search function (scroll down to "Views").

So if I type something like this: you will see a current list of links I created, using the tag "Wifi". So what happens if I add a Wifi link tomorrow? Well, when you come back to the link at the beginning of this paragraph a week later - it will show all current links, including the new ones I've added. So this very blog post could be two years old, but if I've continued to post to Delicious using the Wifi tag, the list will be up to date!

Note: The Delicious link above references my alter-ego, "Smoking Goat" - which means nothing to you except - these Wifi links you see are only the ones I have posted.

That leads to the next interesting thing - most of you are probably way ahead of me.... If I use Delicious' general tag URL, I can find a current list for everyone's links using a certain tag (using the word "tag" in the place of "smokinggoat" in the URL) - e.g. - I have no idea what will be listed here, because it is likely to change by the day, if not hour.

So far, so good. Then we get to my idea of tracking certain "topics" in this blog - like ticketing, for example. The order of the next few steps is not necessarily crucial, but I will try to keep them discrete, because they do not necessarily need to follow one another.
  • Link all my blog entries concerning ticketing to Delicious, with the tag "ticketing" (I've also added "nptech" and "arts_orgs" for good measure). Now, if you go to you can follow the blog discussion around ticketing.
  • I can also add "recursive" links to the blog entries. Take a look at one of the first blog entries I have retro-edited. At the bottom of that blog, I entered the following text into my blog entry:
(found in: ticketing... etc)
and the link I put in for "ticketing" was
So when you read one of the entries, and you say to yourself, "Gee, he's on to something there, I would like to read more about this topic" you click on the link, and all of a sudden you are taken to Delicious, which will show you a whole list of similar topics you can click on.

Yes, yes, I know all of you know it... But it took me a while to get my head around this. And as I said, these two steps are almost mutually exclusive - I can create a link on Delicious without having to reference it in my blog; and somewhat more strangely, I can create a Delicious search string link without there being any content. For example, I can create a link at the end of my blog like this:

And it will still work - by showing you the results of the "search string" you just created- I have never posted anything with that tag, so the page is blank.

One last comment: As I said, most of these links are to Delicious entries I myself created. I showed you one example of how to pull up a list of links created by anyone given a certain tag. Well, sometimes that is useful, and sometimes not. When I did it with "ticketing" (and I'll show you the URL so you can see the format: I got a lot of stuff - most of it not related to online ticket sales for performing arts organizations.

But.... I did find a gem, which I will review soon. So it's already working as a tool for gathering information! Not only did I find a new referral for online ticketing solutions, but I found a new person who might be linking to similar topics.

One question if you've made it this far: I am explaining to the choir? Or was there actually some new information here for you? I would love to find out if explaining stuff on this level if helpful for more people than just myself.

(Much thanks to Marnie for helping me parse out the different pieces to this puzzle.)


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