Tags Done Right…the Technorati Way

My pal, Casey, posted an article about tagging. His topic is right, the implementation he is using for Technorati tagging is a bit off as it only accomplishes half of what is needed and may be misleading (luckily his implementation is in alpha testing). He states:

Flickr does tags better than any other, so far as I can tell.

[...]

Take “road trip” as an example. What one tagger thinks is two words might be just “roadtrip” to another. This is where Flickr’s tag indexing does it right: we still have to pick the right words (and spelling), but we don’t have to worry about spaces or punctuation.

So, when I tag a photo “Mt. Moosilauke,” Flickr stores the both text I enter as well as a version in all lower-case, without spaces or punctuation: “mtmoosilauke.” And when you search for “Mt. Moosilauke,” you get the same results as your neighbor searching for “mt moosilauke.”

Casey has modified his excellent WordPress stat tracking/tagging/everything else you could ever want plugin, bsuite, to place Technorati tags at the bottom of posts in that fashion. So, I could enter the following as tags in my post:

<tags>squirrel handed people, bologna, large elephants taste good with cheese</tags>

His plugin would display the tags (and thus, ping Technorati) as:

<tags>squirrelhandedpeople, bologna, largeelephantstastegoodwithcheese</tags>

Neat feature, but there is one issue. Technorati tags don’t work that way. If I wanted to search for WordPress, I would get a whole set of different results than if I had searched for Word press or even “Word Press”. Which is right? Well, the user community drives what is right so…all three. We can make the assumption that many users will enter their search terms in many different ways depending on where/how they learned about tagging.

I quote my tags. One of my friends doesn’t. Casey likes to omit spaces.

Casey is right in that Flickr did it correctly from the start. But when working with Technorati its a whole other ball game. Bsuite, in my opinion, should either leave tagging stories as the user enters them OR when displaying tags and pinging Technorati, all possibilities need to be accounted for. Luckily there are only the 3 main types:

  1. Tags with spaces
  2. Tagswithnospaces
  3. and “Tags in quotes”

I am pleased to say that option 3 – “Tags in quotes” – happily replaces all punctuation with a single space. So I could write the following and it’d all be the same:

“Tags in quotes”
“Tags+in+quotes”
“Tags-in_quotes!”
etc.

The moral of the story: There may be a correct way to implement a base feature…but when you are relying on a separate web service to manage that base feature, you need to adhere to their standards to optimize your results…and in the mean time beg them to change it. Tonight I will be meeting with Casey and hopefully bend his Bsuite Beta tag implementation to my will!

Slashdot Goes Tagging!

Slashdot is a blog no matter how much they attempt to deny it. Its about time that the well known nerd news site implements more searchable articles besides categories. Folksonomy is definately the way to go! Currently, Slashdot is labeling tagging as a Beta feature (*sniff sniff* do I smell web 2.0?). All Slashdot needs to do is make good with its proposed redesign and I’ll be a happy reader once again. Until then, I suppose I’ll remain the slightly disgruntled, yet loyal, reader that steals and elaborates on a number of their topics! w00t!

Amazon Tags!

About Time! According to CNet, Amazon is heading down the road of tagging. This is great news in my book. I’m a follower of the Web 2.0 movement and have really been turned onto the idea of folksonomy (tagging) by products like Flickr and thus have recently brought MasterWish on board with tagging.

While many people out there have used tagging in Flickr, Gmail, MasterWish and various other web 2.0 apps…there are still many out there that express their opinions on tagging as “Tagging…WTF is that?!”. Having a large web company such as Amazon with its HUGE following jump on the band wagon with tagging will help bring folksonomy to the masses.

While exciting that this is happening, Amazon is slowly rolling tags out to their users as evidenced in this excerpt of the CNet article:

The idea, apparently, is to slowly experiment with tags and to give users some power over how certain Amazon products–books, for example–are categorized.

For now [...] only about half of Amazon’s users can even see tags on the site.

Its only a matter of time before folksonomy will cease to be a buzz word and start appearing in the english dictionary. Everybody and their brother will know of tagging and the world will be a happier, easier to search place. I can only hope

Google Blog Search

I just read about this at my friend Cliff’s blog! It seems Google now provides a Blog Search tool! Yup, a Google search geared towards blog sites. Very groovy. Google states (and yes, I’m ripping off my friend’s story…but who cares :D I reach a different audience.)

Blog Search is Google search technology focused on blogs. Google is a strong believer in the self-publishing phenomenon represented by blogging, and we hope Blog Search will help our users to explore the blogging universe more effectively, and perhaps inspire many to join the revolution themselves. Whether you’re looking for Harry Potter reviews, political commentary, summer salad recipes or anything else, Blog Search enables you to find out what people are saying on any subject of your choice.

Cliff does say:

After tinkering with Google Blog Search for a bit, I have to say that it seems pretty good. It’s never quite clear how Google gathers their info and ranks their sites, although they do seem to lend quite a bit of weight to tags.

I’ve played with it a bit and I definately think its the right plan. Just one more thing to add to Google’s large list of services I use!

Google Services

After posting about Google Maps’ implementation of satellite imagery from Hurricane Katrina, it was suggested that I do a follow-up on Google Earth. I think I’ll go one step further and elaborate on some of Google’s hottest services and slightly speculate on what could be coming down the road.

Google Maps
Google Maps vs. MapQuest…Google wins hands down. Not only is this product able to generate efficient directions, but you can view maps using the standard road maps, using satellite imagery, or a hybrid of the two! This is a very sweet product that has been blogged about by many so won’t elaborate too much more on this product…but I would suggest heading over to MaisonBisson.com and NoSheep!.

Google Earth
If you think Google Maps is something sweet, Google Earth will really turn you on! Ok, fine. It isn’t a web app…its a desktop app. Google Earth is a product formerly known as Keyhole until Google bought them up (along with Keyhole’s satellite) then reworked and rebranded it as their own. This is Google Maps on steroids. When you open the app, you start in space looking at Earth. When you enter a city, state, etc in the search box and hit enter, you see the earth rotate and you zoom in on the location you entered. If the location happens to be a place that is densely populated, there is a chance that there are 3-dimensional buildings available for you to view…simply check the ‘Buildings’ box and tilt your view and viola! If you haven’t checked it out yet, I would highly recommend you get off your butt and go download it. Its bound to be a great procrastination tool!

Gmail
Google Mail has breathed life back into the e-mail web client industry. They are setting the standard and are crushing competitors with their innovative design and search-based/tagging e-mail archiving. Gmail is a whole new way of handling the taxonomy of e-mail!

In Gmail:

  • There are no folders, there is labeling. WTF is that? Well, its a way of marking an e-mail as part of a specific topic…say I receive an e-mail from MasterWish about my new account and I want to save it. Rather than dropping that e-mail in a folder marked ‘MasterWish’, I apply a label to that e-mail called ‘MasterWish.’ Ok, so whats the difference between that and folders? Here’s the kicker, I can apply a second label to that e-mail called ‘Account Information’…Then I can apply a third called ‘Sweet Websites’. Basically it allows you to put an e-mail into as many categories that you want which makes searching for the e-mail a whole lot easier. Now I no longer have to sit and think “Alright…this e-mail is about MasterWish so I want to put it in the MasterWish folder…but wait. It is also an Account Information e-mail….hrm.” Now I simply label it as many times as I want and I’m done!
  • Goolge Search Power! Yeah, rather than folders and moving e-mail all over gods creation, Google has a handy dandy ‘Archive’ button. If you don’t want a crap ton of e-mail that you have already read sitting in your inbox and you don’t want to delete it, Archive it! No worries, if you want to find it again simply use the google-style search box to find it again. Hugely efficient, hugely accurate, extremely easy, and faster than Outlook search :D
  • View entire e-mail threads. When you get a conversation going back and forth with a friend or business…i.e. you send an e-mail, they reply, you reply, they reply, you reply, etc. Rather than cluttering up your inbox with umpteen-million e-mails, Gmail places them in one! You can see every e-mail in a given discussion and expand/hide parts that you care/don’t care to see.
  • AJAX. (Asynchronous Javascript And XML). With Gmail there are few page loads. As you navigate around your Gmail account you may notice that the page usually doesn’t reload… Thats AJAX. Gmail and Google Maps have made it hugely popular. I’ll post a followup describing it later because it is its own topic in and of itself.

Google Talk
I just downloaded Google Talk today :) Google now has an IM application! If you have a Gmail account, you can get it and login without creating yet another account to remember. As my friends move towards Gmail accounts, this will become a slicker tool to use. If you have a Gmail account, I urge you to download Google Talk and give it a whirl. If there is enough end-user response to the application, I’m sure Google will be able to do great things in the IM market. Its simple. No ads. It offers one-click access to your Gmail account.

Google Desktop
Microsoft did it wrong (as usual)…Google has done it right (as usual) with Google Desktop. This tool will index all of your e-mail (Outlook, Outlook Express, Gmail, etc), your IM programs, visited webpages, text documents, and a crap ton of other stuff allowing you to search (using a browser) all of the above returning search results as quick as Google Search! If you have used the Microsoft search tool in Windows, you know from experience that its like watching grass grow.

Oh, and with the newest version of Google Desktop, there is a sidebar that allows you to monitor all sorts of things in addition to executing desktop searches. There is a photo rotater, a blog monitor (places newest posts on your most frequented site visits), an iTunes controller, etc.

The above is what I use and find extremely cool. Obviously there are a whole lot of additional web apps that Google is developing. I’ll be posting more as I use them ;) In the mean time, check out what Google has to offer at the Google Labs. Where are they headed? Are they slowly cornering/buying out various web markets for a ‘secret scheme’ or just trying to make right what has been horribly wrong for so long? Time will tell…we do know, however, that Google is making other companies *cough cough*Microsoft*cough cough* extremely angry as the Google competition is hard to top! If Microsoft is threatening to “Kill Google”, the company must be doing something right!