I got my badge and went to work on some stuff this afternoon. I have my bearings now. Austin is a great place. My favorite thing about it so far is the soundtrack. Everywhere I go, good music is playing. A sandwich shop, coffee place, in the cab. They understand music here.
I was at a pre-SXSW party tonight. The usual suspects were there. Andy, Leonard, and Gordon; Scott Beale, Jesse James Garrett, and other now familiar faces. I met Thomas Vander Wal there as well. I have seen his name around and it was good to finally put a person to the user ID. We spoke for a long time about all sorts of things, as he's very big into folksonomy (ok he created the word) and social networks.
I was going to email Thomas about this, but I thought I'd write about it here instead to lure him in... we spoke a bit about Yahoo! Shopping and the tagging of products. We have thought about this at Yahoo! and have discussed it at length. It's my feeling that our users are not ready for the concept of tagging a product object yet. And since products are already classified it would take time for people to think beyond that to submit meaningful tags. We have enough noise on our site already. Thomas understood, but he sees value in the idea. He gave Amazon and their tagging efforts as an example. He said he tagged Adam Greenfield's new book Everyware with the term "ubicomp" because ubicomp is short for "ubiquitous computing" and that's the subject of the book. Okay that's good. That makes sense. But here's my problem, and it took me from the time I left the party until now to think of this... Up until now, tagging has been used to label and define personal objects. My photos, my links, my blog, etc. I do it for me and me alone, not really for the benefit of anyone else. The fact that it does benefit others is a nice after-effect, but it's not the reason I tag. Nor is it the reason most tag. If people tag at all, it's to put the object that they are tagging into their own personal classification or context.
This is why we see "personal" tags on Amazon products. These product objects do not belong to the individual, so to put the object into a personal context, the individual tags it with a personal term. Usually it's a person's name or a note to themselves like a simple classification. They use it as a shopping or wish list. Here are some examples. 1. 2. 3. You can see that the iPod is tagged with words such as "ipod" "iPod" "me wantie" and "katy".
This may not always be the case, and I expect that advanced computer books on Amazon fair better than most other products, but it's certainly a trend worth commenting on and the main reason why Yahoo! Shopping has not implement product tags. Just some food for thought... Am I off on this Thomas?
Here's an idea that is sort of related... tagging yourself. Funny. Again... it's about defining your own object.