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Why Isn’t This the Tag Standard? Multi Word, Comma Separated

Tagging is a great way to put context on user generated content. The tag cloud to the right shows what the hundreds of thousands of blogs were talking about on the evening of August 21. (Click the image to see what bloggers are talking about right now).

Pretty much any web 2.0 service that has user-generated content supports tags. Flickr. YouTube. Del.icio.us. Google Reader. Last.fm. Tagging is entrenched in the web 2.0 world, and it’s one of those idea that spread without any standards.

But there is a problem of no single standard…

Beta, VHS.

Blue-Ray, HD-DVD.

Space or comma delimited?

What’s happened is that tagging formats are all over the map. Each web 2.0 service came up with what worked best for its product and developers:

This post at 37signals described the same tag formats above, and it got a lot of comments. Good energy around the subject. Brian Daniel Eisenberg thinks the failure to have a consistent tag method may undermine its adoption by the masses.

To me, there really is one best format.

Multiple Words, Comma Separated

I tweeted this on Twitter/FriendFeed:

Can there be a universal standard for tags? Multi-word tags, comma separated. Odd combos (underscore, dot, combined) are messy, inconsistent.

You can see the comments on the link. The gist of them? Multiple words, comma separated is the best format. Here’s why I think so:

  • Forced separation of words changes their meaning (“product management” or “product” and “management”)
  • Forced separation of words creates tag clouds that misrepresent subjects (is it “product” content? or “management” content?)
  • With single terms, too many ways for users to combine the same term:
    • productmanagement
    • product.management
    • product_management
    • product-management
  • Writing multiple words with spaces between them is the way we learn to write
  • Putting commas between separate ideas, context, meanings and descriptions is the way we write

Let people (1) use more than one word for a tag, (2) written naturally without odd connectors like under_scores, and (3) using commas to separate tags. These rules are the best fit for germanic and romance languages, and I assume for most other languages as well.

To Brian’s point about the masses, let’s make tagging consistent with writing.

For Developers, It’s Pretty Much a Non-Issue

In The Need for Creating Tag Standards, the blog Neosmart Files writes:

Basically, it’s too late for a tagging standard that will be used unanimously throughout the web.

A lot of developer types weighed in on the comments. For the most part, they’re sanguine about the issue of different formats. Rip out any extraneous characters like spaces, periods, underscores, etc. What’s left is a single string that is the tag.

It’s About the Users

The issue fundamentally is how boxed in people are if they want to tag. In the Neosmart Files post, commenter Jason wrote this:

As this topic suggests, there are issues in resolving various tags that whilst literally different they are contextually equivalent. I believe this to be the critical juncture. Perhaps the solution lies not in heaping upon more standards, but improving the manner in which tags are processed by consumers.

From my perspective, multiple word, comma separated format is the most wide open, flexible way to handle tags. If a user likes running words together, he can do it. If a user wants to put underscores between words, she can do it. If a user likes spaces between words, not a problem.

But making users cram together words in odd combinations takes them out of their normal writing and thinking style. Tags should be formatted with humans in mind, not computers.

That’s my argument. What say you?

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See this post on FriendFeed: http://friendfeed.com/search?q=%22Why+Isn%E2%80%99t+This+the+Tag+Standard%3F+Multi+Word%2C+Comma+Separated%22&public=1

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Weekly Recap 072508: Twittering into the Mainstream

Twitter got some big play this week: 2 good, 1 bad…let’s start with good…

USA Today had a nice feature on Twitter, Twitter took off from simple to ‘tweet’ success…this quote from the article really gets it right about Twitter these days…

Twitter has become so popular, so fast, that keeping up with its fast-growing user base is a real issue. So many people now use Twitter to update friends that the system often crashes.

The outages are the markers of a company that is experiencing success beyond its expectations…

The New York Times ran a story about how companies use Twitter, blogs and other social media to keep up with customer issues and questions…

If you’re scoring at home, that’s two mainstream, huge-circulation newspapers writing positive stories about Twitter this week…if you wonder a couple years from now how Twitter became so mainstream, remember weeks like this…

But not all was well with Twitter this week…the company inexplicably chopped off subscribers from every user…there were a lot of pissed Twitterers…people threatened to leave Twitter…but when the followers were restored?…

Temporary retraction .. comes back up 50 more followers ? I can’t help it … it’s sticky”

Twitter’s je ne sais quoi

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I’ve never said jailbreaking

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SmugMug seems to have figured out FriendFeed’s visual dynamics…SmugMug pictures come thorugh big, bright and beautiful on FriendFeed, especially compared to Flickr pictures…

SmugMug pix on FriendFeed, courtesy of Dave Cohen:

Dave Cohen SmugMug Pictures

Dave Cohen SmugMug Pictures

Same pix, this time Flickr on FriendFeed:

Dave Cohen Flickr Pictures

Dave Cohen Flickr Pictures

Great advertisement for SmugMug…and the little guy is cute regardless of the photo service…

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Noticed a change in my Google Reader shares these days…I’m tending to share blog posts that I haven’t already seen a few times on FriendFeed…that means fewer TechCrunch shares…more emphasis on those nuggets that haven’t seen wide circulation yet…

Figured people were seeing the big blogs enough already…

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I got to do a guest post on Louis Gray’s blog this week…really good reactions out there in the blogosphere, which was great…blogger Barry Schwartz thought enough of the post that he wrote his own post in response, Am I Losing the Connection?

Unfortunately, Barry got the author wrong…he overlooked the “guest post” announcement at the start of the post, and naturally figured Louis wrote it…from Barry’s post…

  • Louis Gray wrote a blog post named Bloggers’ Interactions With Readers Decrease With Prominence
  • Louis Gray documents what are “interactions:”
  • “It’s these two dynamics that cause some bloggers to head onto the next stage,” explains Louis.

Sigh…I am happy the post resonated, but it’d be nice to get a little recognition…so I left a comment on Barry’s post a few days ago:

Barry – glad you liked the post. One small correction – I actually wrote that particular post. Louis was kind enough to let me guest post on his blog.

As for losing your connection to the industry. Look to people like Fred Wilson and Louis Gray as examples. I don’t think any blogger should feel the need to connect with every reader. Just like connecting anywhere else – pick your spots, right?

Despite the comment, Barry hasn’t updated his blog…Barry – you’re losing touch with your readers!…

Well, I’m not alone…Rob Diana wrote a piece on Louis’s blog, Can Microblogs Just Talk to Each Other?…Dave Winer thought it was Louis’s post…such are the benefits and perils of guest blogging…

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According to Allen Stern, Mahalo employees are busily writing articles for Google Knol…Unsure of Google Knol’s future impact on his company Mahalo, Jason Calacanis is making sure they have plenty of articles with links pointing to Mahalo pages…

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Plan to buy an iPhone this week, if they have inventory

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See this post on FriendFeed: http://friendfeed.com/search?q=%22Weekly+Recap+072508%3A+Twittering+into+the+Mainstream%22&public=1

Weekly Recap 071808: Define ‘Frienderati’

Literati means intelligentsia…

Intelligentsia means…a social class of people engaged in complex mental and creative labor directed to the development and dissemination of culture, encompassing intellectuals and social groups close to them

Guy Kawasaki’s at it again…he rolled out his latest list of the “Top” in a medium, this time FriendFeed…his Frienderati lists ~100 people on FriendFeed and their 5 most recent entries…I actually follow a number of the people on his list…

But something’s not quite right with his list…Frienderati is a derivative of the term literati…look at that definition above…Frienderati should have a hand in the “development and dissemination” of culture on FriendFeed…

But many of them don’t…Shey Smith wrote Frienderati: Making it Easy to Find Popular Inactives in which he questioned the “-ati” credentials of Guy’s list…his title hits the nail on the head, inactives…

There’s Amber Mac, listed as a “new media journalist”…her FriendFeed stream is all Twitter, and she has 3 comments and 1 Like all time…Paul Kedrosky, “investor, writer, entrepreneur”…he streams his tweets and blog posts…2 comments, 1 like all time…Rebecca Briggs, “helping the world heal from the inside out”…tweets and blog…has never commented or Liked anything in FriendFeed…

The best has to be Guy Kawasaki putting himself on the list…nearly all twitter, which he only added on July 4th…2 comments all time…and there are others with similar levels of inactivity…

In what universe are these people the ones that develop and disseminate the culture of FriendFeed? They barely know it!…Two things at play here…

  1. Guy wants to make sure there are known personalities on his list, because you can’t just have a list with us regular folk who actually are part of the culture
  2. The lifestream aggregator part of FriendFeed is still important. Frienderati looks at FriendFeed as a simple aggregation of the streams of Important People, not as a place of interaction.

The nice thing is that FriendFeed makes it easy for n00bs to find interesting people…friend-of-friend and comments can help users get beyond the Important People…

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I’ve never said meh

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Mattel, maker of Barbie, won its lawsuit against MGA, maker of Bratz. Mattel alleged that Carter Bryant, a designer at Mattel, created the Bratz concept while under contract for Mattel. Two  pieces of evidence…

  • He used a discarded Barbie body and Ken boots to mock up a concept of Bratz (via LAT)
  • He used a Mattel notebook to write about the Bratz concept (via WSJ – subscription)

I don’t disagree that employees are obligated to provide value to their companies…but the actions of Carter Bryant are probably similar to those that a lot of entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley have done…imagine if all the big companies came down on ex-employees for taking ideas they started while employed and building their own companies…

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Noticing increased use of pictures in FriendFeed direct posts…they really make a post clickable and interesting…I did a quick survey of 100 FriendFeed direct posts in my ‘Friends’ stream…46 of the 100 direct posts had pictures…

And the pictures really work…they tend to dominate the poor text-only links…however, a bunch of comments on a text-only link still is the #1 draw for me…

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Interesting comment by Wai Seto regarding the iPhone’s too-short battery life and AT&T…

On the power issue, I have learned that handset receive and transmit power is actually set by the network over the air. The base station can tell the handset to tune down or up real time. The rumor is because AT&T coverage is not very good (not enough base stations?), so they set this setting very high and drain most of their 3G devices pretty quick. The power setting at AT&T is believe to be higher then European operators.

I looked at Wai’s LinkedIn profile, he’s a software architect at Nokia…so I’m thinking he knows what he’s talking about…

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Possibly the cutest baby picture ever…

Uploaded to Flickr on July 16…by July 18, it already has 10,732 views…

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See this post on FriendFeed: http://friendfeed.com/search?q=%22Weekly+Recap+071808%3A+Define+%27Frienderati%22&public=1

What Interactions Do You Want from Social Media?

Mapping the different social media interactions to human anatomy:

Now…where to go to get those interactions? An incomplete list follows.

Ideas, opinion, information:

  • FriendFeed
  • Twitter

Share photos, videos

  • Flickr
  • SmugMug
  • Zoomr
  • YouTube
  • Facebook
  • FriendFeed

Music you like:

  • Last.fm

Chit chat

  • Twitter

What are you feeling?

  • Facebook
  • Twitter

What are you doing?

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • FriendFeed
  • Upcoming

What are you eating?

  • Twitter

Where are you?

  • Brightkite
  • Twitter

Personally, my interest is in ideas, opinions and information. But some photos and chit chat are also nice.

How about you?

I’m @bhc3 on Twitter.

 

Made the Switch: FriendFeed Now My Homepage

In recent weeks, I’ve noticed my behavior has changed when I fire up the PC in the morning. My Yahoo has been my home page forever. I love the portal approach, with everything I like easily visible and accessible with a click.

But as soon as My Yahoo loaded, I quickly clicked over to FriendFeed. I really didn’t read much of what was displayed on My Yahoo.

I can be pretty loyal to apps and companies I like. I was doing this with Yahoo, despite the change in my behavior. Finally though, I realized that staying loyal and delivering a page view to Yahoo wasn’t really getting me anything.

I switched to FriendFeed.

My Top 5 Reasons for Making the Switch:

  1. Content that is filtered by my network on FriendFeed has more value to me than what I see on My Yahoo
  2. My interest in all the content I see on My Yahoo is only fleeting, but a portal demands that it’s always there (e.g. stock quotes)
  3. Hitting Refresh on My Yahoo only brings up the same stories. FriendFeed has the most amazing river of new stuff.
  4. My Yahoo doesn’t provide some of the content I find most interesting = tweets, blog posts, articles directly posted, comments, Flickr Favorites by people I trust (note the Flickr irony…)
  5. My Yahoo takes too long to load

I know I can control the portal experience by adding/deleting content. But that’s a pretty heavy process to me. And it doesn’t really come close to the constant stream of interesting new content that FriendFeed delivers.

I don’t mind the ads so much, but that big fat Classmates.com ad sure does take up a lot of real estate. I expect when Friendfeed includes ads, they’ll be more subtle like Google AdWords.

Biggest concern? I’ll fail to check my Yahoo Mail without the link I have on the My Yahoo page. A number of people still use that email to stay in touch.

If Yahoo can get clever and revive itself, I might make it my home page again. But for now, it’s FriendFeed.

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See this post on FriendFeed: http://friendfeed.com/search?q=%22Made+the+Switch%3A+FriendFeed+Now+My+Homepage%22&public=1

Weekly Recap 052308: If You Love Your Blog, Set It Free

The week that was…

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Things kicked off with a pair of posts about the next stage of blogging. Yes, fractured comments and all…Duncan Riley wrote Blogging 2.0: It’s All About The User. He writes: If blogging 1.0 was about enabling the conversation on each blog, blogging 2.0 is about enabling the conversation across many blogs and supporting sites and services…Louis Gray followed up with Blogging 2.0 Causing Friction With 1.0 Bloggers…Louis nicely defines the old blogging paradigm: Blogging 1.0 centered around who could: (i)Amass the most page views; (ii) Display the most ads; (iii) Get the most comments; and (iv) Attract the most RSS subscribers

As a relatively novice blogger, I pretty easily fall into the Blogging 2.0 camp…why on earth would I want to keep the conversations limited to my little blog?…that’d be a recipe for having a stale blog…

But Blogging 1.0 is still a strong instinct out there…one example: see Allen Stern’s post on CenterNetworks, Let’s Get Serious About FriendFeed; the 1995 Message Board, the Smart Consolidator and the Stolen Conversation…read not just the post, but check out some of the comments…Blogging 1.0 will die hard…

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Help! I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up!…bad week for Twitter, everyone’s favorite social chat room: outages, outages, outages…this seems to be getting progressively worse, as Twitter’s success is killing it…

To show disapproval for Twitter’s handling of these outages, several folks staged a Twit-Out on Wednesday May 21…a number of regular Twitterers went the whole day without going over to Twitter…they also hid tweets from their FriendFeed streams…even the biggest Twitterer of all, Robert Scoble, joined in…

It wasn’t met with universal love, but they made their point…oh, and Twitter did go down that day…

But one bright spot: Twitter apparently scored a new $15 million round of VC funding…

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One outcome of the twitter issues this week…some bigger names in the social media world started to embrace it much more…Jeremiah Owyang, who previously marked the date when new Twitter subscribers could not be considered as early adopters, got into it again with FriendFeed…first he posted on FriendFeed that he now had a new place (FriendFeed) to look for conversations, which elicited a bunch of hearty “welcome aboard” type of messages…

Well that got Jeremiah fired up, and went into throw-down mode: Dudes, I’ve been on FriendFeed for a while, not a late adopter…he challenged Robert Scoble to list his date of FriendFeed registration…geek cred…

Of course, if you looked at his activity stats at that time, he had no comments, no likes…but he’s much more engaged now, which is cool…he even wrote a post about FriendFeed…

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One thing I’ve noticed in some favorited Flickr photos…models wearing little to nothing…not that I’m complaining, I love art…Thomas Hawk has some strong opinions about making this even easier here

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FriendFeed now has Rooms!…Rooms are separate spaces on FriendFeed where people can direct post items, and re-share items into a Room…they accomplish two things: (i) allow a focus around specific topics to follow; (ii) remove some of the items that were considered noise by many users…

Bwana McCall (second reference in this post, nice!) has a good initial set of use cases for rooms here…my favorite is the use of Rooms for live blogging like from one of those Apple events…

One bit of hilarity was the land grab that occurred for Room topics…Michael Nielsen asked Any plans to prevent squatting? I can see people snapping up thousands of “rooms” on the off chance that one day they’ll be worth something…um, well, uh…I managed to score Web 2.0, Enterprise 2.0, Running, Obama 2008 and Coca Cola among others…no idea what I’ll do with them, but anyone’s free to join…I wonder if the Obama campaign will want their Room?

Something that Rooms will foster: an increase in FriendFeed direct posts…regular feeds from your social media sites won’t stream automatically into Rooms…

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See this item on FriendFeed: http://friendfeed.com/search?q=%22weekly+recap+052308%22&public=1

Early Adopters: Attention Is Migrating to FriendFeed

Based on the reaction to a recent post about Twitter early adopters, it’s clear there’s an appetite to understand when trends emerge and applications migrate across the technology adoption lifecycle.

To that end, there are important updates about FriendFeed.

FriendFeed has been out for a few months as this cool app that lets you look at what your friends are doing across social media. If you were to stop there, it sounds nice, but somewhat useless to everyday activities. “Yeah, I check it every so often to see what my friends are up to.”

But, it is so much more. FriendFeed is emerging as the one lifestream platform to rule them all. The ability to see and interact across a range of services is proving addictive. And it may inadvertently disrupt a few other services along the way.

Four recent comments show that a trend is emerging. People are consuming updates from their social apps not directly from the apps themselves, but primarily from FriendFeed. FriendFeed is starting to get the lion’s share of attention and page views, to the detriment of other services.

Here are the quotes.

Robert Scoble tweeted about his declining use of Google Reader due to FriendFeed:

FriendFeed has replaced much of what made RSS cool to me. I’m still reading Google Reader, but less.

Thomas Hawk messaged on FriendFeed about his declining use of Flickr due to FriendFeed:

I find that I’m going to Flickr’s most recent photos from my contacts much less than I used to and going to friendfeed to view my contacts and imaginary contacts flickr photos much more.

Steven Hodson commented about potentially leaving Twitter altogether due to FriendFeed:

FriendFeed as for me it is a much better resource than Twitter will every be. It has gotten to the point where even now I’m seriously thinking of moving strictly to FF.

Jason Kaneshiro blogged about his declining use of Google Reader, due to FriendFeed

FriendFeed is replacing Google Reader as my information aggregator / filter.

If you’re trendspotting, you’d do worse than to look at the comments of those four to see where the early adopters are moving.

Finally, the compete.com graph below shows March 2008 had a huge spike in visitors to friendfeed.com:

How about you? Are you feeling it?

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See this item on FriendFeed: http://friendfeed.com/e/0b9e5d3f-e644-6105-5e28-7b4a95e1b34a

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