Folksonomy works well with others?

Here is a post about a library of congress report that we all might find pretty interesting. To copy from the blog which copies from the summary:

The following statistics attest to the popularity and impact of the pilot. As of October 23, 2008,
there have been:
• 10.4 million views of the photos on Flickr.
• 79% of the 4,615 photos have been made a “favorite” (i.e., are incorporated into personal
Flickr collections).
• More than 15,000 Flickr members have chosen to make the Library of Congress a
“contact,” creating a photostream of Library images on their own accounts.
• 7,166 comments were left on 2,873 photos by 2,562 unique Flickr accounts.
• 67,176 tags were added by 2,518 unique Flickr accounts.
• 4,548 of the 4,615 photos have at least one community-provided tag.
• Less than 25 instances of user-generated content were removed as inappropriate.
• More than 500 Prints and Photographs Online Catalog (PPOC) records have been
enhanced with new information provided by the Flickr Community.

Kinda cool, no?

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Michigan Library Web 2.0-ed; Husband 202-ed

As if we needed further proof that taking 202 can change your life (or your wife), my husband today sent me an email worthy of mentioning on this blog. I think he has been vicariously 202-ed. What he felt compelled to share with me was the fact that the University of Michigan Library has a feature on its Mirlyn search engine where users can tag any item in the collection. I checked the UC “next-generation pilot” version of Melvyl, and indeed it supports tags as well, along with social bookmarking features. It’ll be interesting to see just how Weinbergian our libraries get in the next few years. I think this is a good thing, because it shows that libraries are paying attention to what is going on outside and are not afraid to experiment with it. Long live libraries!

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Lib O’Congress on flickr

THE Library of Congress is posting images to flickr.

The LOC is uploading images to flickr and inviting viewers to add tags. The goal is to share images, to experiment with socially constructed taxonomies, and to start wading among the people of the tubes.

The LOC is following these general guidelines with respect to annotation of the images the post on flickr:
We placed only one tag (“Library of Congress”) and two machine tags on each photo when we loaded them. Any other tags you see were added by the community; we are generally not controlling the content of Flickr tags, notes and comments, but we reserve the right to remove added content for any reason.  

The project has been a success, according to the LOC — many people have participated in annotating the images with comments, tags, and notes.  Here’s an example of an image that has been viewed more than 85,000 times and has much of annotation from viewers:

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I don’t know if people have seen, but it’s pretty interesting.

It’s another site that tries to automatically generate tags based on a URL or a block of text, but this one also tries to group these tags into categories, “topic,” “content type,” “person,” “title,” “location,” and “language.”

Like most auto-tagging sites, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.  Here’s this blog’s generated tags:

You wanted some tags? Here you are!


talk    Knowledge    analysis    Gruber    book    Web    Permalink    google    information    content

content type



Bill Schilit    Nathaniel Wharton    Bob    Nick Doty


INFO 202 Fall 08 Blog



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Tagging with pictures | Tagging the physical world.

At the risk of fanning political flames, this jpg was just sent to me via email. If you move past the humor and politics of the photo, it seems salient to today’s topic of tagging. Specifically, using the characteristics we collectively/culturally ascribe to trains of varying types to tag each of the presidential/vice-presidential candidates. It was done visually instead of with words (modern, green, fast, powerful, coal powered, archaic, plastic, child’s toy). Are these “good” tags? I think guys named Nick who went to Amherst (the h is silent) would say yes.

Election Trains

After I stopped laughing, this made me wonder if there were already a system tagging things with pictures out there. I did not find any with a quick google search. Just a number of whitepapers.

However, I did find Tonchidot.

While not specifically related to using images to tag other images or ideas, they are developing an iPhone app that adds tags to the images the camera sees in real time. They take community tags and make them mobile in a very compelling way. Want to know what type of flower that is? Tree? Year a building you are looking at was made, who designed it? Which store at the mall has the thing you want to buy? How many stars the restaurant you are looking at has on yelp? When the next bart is arriving at your station? Find a lower price for something in a different store. Purchase something via the phone. Leave a message for a friend to pick up by walking by a specific place.

Tagging a specific location is also possible. This reminds me of William Gibson’s book Spook Country. One aspect of the storyline was the development of location based digital art installations. In order to see a specific digitally created piece you needed specially made hardware (eyeglass digital display) and a computer. You also needed to be in a specific geo-spatial location. Now, you’ll just need your iPhone.

One of the things an artist in the book said reminds me of the potential of Tonchidot’s technology. Imaging traveling across the country and seeing a whole 2nd landscape that covers, interacts, and integrates with the physical world. Offering different things to see, information about what you’re seeing, directions to get there, prices for goods/services (who would not love to know the cheapest place to get gas?). And of course a whole new opportunity for advertising and spam.

Maybe that’s the problem with spam. No ontological control.

The video is about 18mins long and worth watching. There is a particularly interesting practical question around the 14:15 min mark.

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The Semantic Web is Easy: Let Computers Do It


Even if we could automagically classify, categorize and connect all the textual content on the web, what would we do with the 2 billion + photos on Flickr? Well, ALIPR (that’s Automatic Linguistic Indexing of Pictures in Real-time) is going to take care of all that tricky classification for us by using image recognition (and some other stuff) to automatically tag all of our photos.

It is not hard to guess how this works right now. But even if the software improves, good 202ers know that the problem is far from solved.

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Taxonomic Tagging

One of the problems with tagging is that the terms used can be ambiguous. Zigtag is a startup which offers delicious-style social bookmarking, but pairs it with a collection of meaningful tags. When a user goes to apply a tag, the system looks it up in their taxonomy and presents a list of matching entries from the taxonomy along with the meaning of each.

They do not currently have a tag specifically for i202’s syllabus.

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Bringing the Third Order of Order to the Second Order

The title for this post is deliberately a mouthful, recalling the mess that is physical metadata. However, there is a company, Tikitag, that is seeking to apply some principles of digital metadata to the physical world by selling cheap RFID tags and readers. The goal is for users to stick these inexpensive unique digital identifiers on their physical belongings, and to manage the information about them on their computers. RFID tags are being used increasingly in the retail space for inventory management, but until now their use in consumer applications has been fairly limited.

Engadget has a writeup of their coverage at DemoFall.

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