tag clouds?

We all know what tag clouds are, usually text of varying sizes indicating importance and frequence of said idea. Wikipedia (the ever trusty resource) notes that tag clouds were first used by flickr (yay web 2.0) and:

can be used as a visual depiction of content tags used on a website. Often, more frequently used tags are depicted in a larger font or otherwise emphasized, while the displayed order is generally alphabetical. Thus both finding a tag by alphabet and by popularity is possible. Selecting a single tag within a tag cloud will generally lead to a collection of items that are associated with that tag.

Just have a look at flickr's "all time most popular tags."

However, I wonder if tagging today has evolved into something more than just words. Does tagging have links with the way people tag and how they represent knowledge?

Recently I read about tagging people (not sure I would want to see tags people associate with me!), a del.icio.us for people. Melanie Swann has an interesting approach to this next generation of tagging here. According to Melanie, tagging people would include "tagging people with words; annotating their interest areas, likes and dislikes, how you know them, where you met them and probably many other aspects of meta data." Hrm...good idea but only if you can edit the tags!

Rashmi Sinha presents a social analysis view of the way people use information through tagging. If "our concepts and languages are constantly in flux. If tagging systems allow a loose coordination of terms across people, then the question arises: "What role do tagging systems play in ebb and flow of concepts." Exactly. A fun project might conduct an analysis of tag clouds and attempt to track the changes in descriptions, tags, and consistency that occur over time and with users. I wonder what kind of artistic creations might evolve out of tagging.


Importantly, if you have thoughts on folksonomy or tagging in general, why not contribute to current research based at the IoCT? Here is the call for participants:

Exploring the use of tagging and folksonomy in digital narrative research.
* Tagging as a form of communication.
* Folksonomy as an emergent knowledge network.
* Narrative as a common ground.

We are interested in the ways in which academic researchers studying narratives might develop people-to-people models of knowledge-sharing across disciplines. To that end, we are seeking researchers working in any type of narrative in any discipline to include in our database of projects and individuals. We would also welcome your suggestions for other researchers who might like to hear from us.

We are especially interested in researchers who are willing to participate in our tagging experiments, due to take place Spring 2007. For more information please contact Bruce Mason as soon as possible at bmason01@dmu.ac.uk.

Tags Networks Narrative is a unique speculative project exploring the potential for collaborative keyword tagging (folksonomy) in narrative research. We want to know:
- What kinds of collaborative social network tools are available for the gathering and classification of information?
- Which researchers are making online narratives the focus of study, and how are those projects categorised by discipline?
- How can these researchers make effective use of social network tools to share knowledge and develop interdisciplinary collaborations?

The project is based in the Institute of Creative Technologies (IOCT) at DeMontfort University and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Boardfrom October 2006-September 2007. The Project Team comprises Professor Sue Thomas, Simon Mills and Bruce Mason.

If you'd like to be involved in the research, add your information to our database, or just be kept informed, please contact Bruce Mason at bmason01@dmu.ac.uk.