The Roo’s Clouds

June 11, 2005

Social Networking, Technology

When I was a young boy, I learned about all sorts of clouds. There are cirrus clouds and stratus clouds, cumulus clouds and nimbus clouds. Then there are the hybrids. There are cirrostratus, nimbostratus, stratocumulus and cumulonimbus clouds.

Well, in the world of neologisms, there are tag clouds as well. And as noted before, I have decided to take up tagging as a passtime. With the aid of TagCloud, I have created several clouds that I can use to see what my favorite feeds are yakking (and tagging) about. I have created a cloud for my technical feeds and a separate cloud for my political feeds. With these clouds, I can quickly check and see what the “buzz” is with my favorite bloggers (and their readers).

I can see some incredible value for these kinds of things – especially for web researchers. I can quickly check the trends in the blogosphere and then use this to launch into additional quereis. In many ways, the tagging community is creating a very interesting “snap poll” for the Internet’s “card catalog” system. Of course, the success of such facilities is entirely dependent upon the adherence of the tagging populace. Success is based upon ample tagging. So folks who tag like mad could easily skew these tools.

For example, in checking out my “wonk” blog, the most tagged item is “Howard Dean” and not the conflict in Iraq. OK. This means that Howard made the buzz. But the value is simply as a quantitative marker to the number of times his name was used as a tag. The Republicans want to keep this guy “in view” because he’s such a loon. So all the conservative wonks are blogging about him. Hence, his rise in stature (or font size). It’s like an instant poll on how many people are talking about a subject – not their subjective feelings on the matter.

Again, there are some very interesting implications – especially for marketing. But this will only become important as more and more people begin to tag. That will happen when it gets the “cool” factor. That has happened. But it will also require the software to become much more accessible. Who knows? Maybe Microsoft will help us there. Again, I can’t wait to hear what Bill is going to annoucne at Gnomedex.



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