Wed 09 Feb 2005

The future will be tagified

I am an avid user of Ken Ferry's Keyword Assistant — it has pretty much replaced titles in my usage of iPhoto. I tag everything I can: the people, places, and events in my pictures. The tags pretty much are a title — why name a picture “Anthony and Susie in the Carpenter's Arms” when I can tag it with Anthony, Susie, Carpenter's Arms (any maybe Pub, Windsor… you get the idea)?

I can imagine a future where this kind of approach is taken everywhere. The Web is already heading this way, with Flickr and spawning a host of tag-based systems, and the increasing focus on meta-data in modern operating systems is a reassuring sign.

I remember people demanding nested albums in iPhoto. That would be good, able to capture some semantics that tags make more obscure, but it introduces the modelling problem that all hierarchies (that model taxonomies) face: is it Turkey > Holidays in Turkey, or Holidays > Holidays in Turkey? TurkeyHoliday is pretty unambiguous.

No, for most users tags are enough, especially when (as Keyword Assistant does) they autocomplete and look into your Address Book. My iPhoto RDF plugin tries to go the next step, mapping a tag (because that's what iPhoto keywords are) to a chunk of RDF, but it's definitely open to improvements. I'd like to see more meaning attached to tags, perhaps along the lines of Tidepool, where you tag with events, places, dates, and people, but I suppose it's not strictly necessary.

What would be cool, as I conclude this somewhat fragmented post, is tags throughout the system. The Finder has its labels (only 10, used for colours), and iTunes has its Grouping field. I'd really use iTunes tags — rather than making playlists to define set membership, I'd use tags. Maybe tags for “guilty pleasures” and “good songs”, so I can only play songs I'm not embarrassed by when others are around? Tags for all songs that are covers of Bowie songs? It's only a step from there to real formal semantics….

5 posts in a day. I do apologise.

Posted at 2005-02-09 09:04:38 by RichardLink to The future will be…