Archive: tagging

Over the weekend, with all the excitement of F1, I decided to have a go at liveblogging the grand prix weekend. Liveblogging the normal way can be a cumbersome task. It involves constantly refreshing the edit page and is generally pretty clunky and (for something that’s meant to be ‘live’) slow. It dawned on me, though, that Twitter is the perfect tool for liveblogging.

Of course, the debate as to whether or not Twitter is actually useful rages on. I think the complaints miss the point. Does everything have to be useful? People have been accusing blogging of being pointless for yonks as well. I mean, why can’t something just be good fun for once? Is that not enough?

Anyway, back to liveblogging. I soon thought of the potential pitfalls of using Twitter as a liveblogging tool. Firstly, there are no comments. Although Twitter has its own informal system of replying to messages, you still need to be a Twitter user to take part at all.

Also, Twitter friends who are not interested in F1 would be bombarded with tweets that they had no interest in (although, to be fair, this is a lot of what Twitter is anyway).

Thirdly, the tweets wouldn’t actually appear on my blog (although I’m sure decent plugins that can do this are not too far away — that would also solve the commenting problem as well).

Still, despite the little niggles, this is the sort of thing that Twitter is really great at. And that’s one in the eye for all of those who say that Twitter is simply too pointless to succeed. Yet, there are a few refinements I would like to see made to Twitter to make it a better liveblogging tool.

Firstly, tagging would be nice. Although part of Twitter’s appeal is its simplicity (with an interface that basically consists of a text field / IM window / SMS message and nothing else), I think tagging could really enhance Twitter. Of course, tagging tweets via SMS or IM would be particularly clunky and difficult. But I see no reason why you shouldn’t be able to do it on the web. And after all, Twitter already allows you to ‘star’ favourite tweets.

So why would tagging be useful? Tagging does often run the risk of being a feature that is included just because it sounds cool. Many websites have a tagging feature that is simply useless. But Twitter tags could work really well if you were to use Twitter for certain specific events.

Say some sad act is liveblogging Formula 1 coverage? I can tag these tweets as ‘formula-1′. This is useful because I am worried that most of my Twitter contacts are not in the least bit interested in my semi-informed interpretations of practice times.

One of the most common things people say about my blog is along the lines of, “I really like your blog — but I skip past all the F1 posts.” The same problem would probably apply on my Twitter account. If I tagged all of my tweets as ‘formula-1′, my contacts could opt to block any of these messages and I could Twitter away about Formula 1 without feeling guilty.

I can see both sides of the argument. On the one hand, part of Twitter’s appeal is its simple… well, simplicity. On the other hand, this is slightly reminiscent of the way daddy project Blogger never had categories for years after every single other blogging tool on the planet had introduced them.

My other idea is probably not quite so familiar. But I would like to see some kind of permalink that would contain all of the tweets within a certain time range. This could come in useful if, for instance, I wanted to link from my blog to my tweets about the qualifying session. This might not be so useful for most people though.

I don’t know how difficult it would be to implement, but I can’t imagine it would be that difficult. Maybe it would be better just to stick to daily / weekly / monthly archives though. That would probably appeal to many more people. Even this would be an improvement on the current vanilla archive.

I think that those who are ditching blogging completely in favour of Twitter are taking things to the extreme a bit. I mean, sometimes the 140 character limit is simply too restrictive, even for something that would never be a fully-formed blog post.

Still, Twitter has some great actual uses. Liveblogging is one. But I think it is also the death-knell for ‘asides’ or mini-posts. Usually asides are a bit too trivial to be given prominence on the blog itself. Twitter is the perfect place to put a pointless little post without feeling guilty about it.

As an aside, how shocking is it that SMS has been so popular in Europe for so long, and yet nobody here came up with a site like Twitter (at least one that worked as well as Twitter does)? Yet, as soon as SMS gains the slightest bit of traction in North America, their creative juices flow like crazy and they come up with all of this brilliant stuff!

By the way, check out Qwghlm’s idea of how liveblogging major events on Twitter would work.

I just did a slightly scary thing and upgraded WordPress. I’ve had to upgrade a good few plugins at the same time, so I’m not 100% sure everything went okay. So if there’s something up please let me know in the comments or something! Thanks.

Update: Well I’ve already found one pretty big problem. Tag archives have gone! Fixed

Just been playing with the new geotagging feature in Flickr. It’s good fun, but the poor quality of the maps really let it down. It’s impossible to accurately pinpoint where anything actually is, particularly since roads are most straight lines and railways often wander out into the sea.

Place names are pretty bad aswell: Burntisland is named correctly, but it is next to a non-existant town called Birntisland! Kirkcaldy isn’t named at all, and Dunkeld and Birnam have merged to become Dunkeld-Birnam. It’s just as well this tool exists then!

Update: I’ve found Kirkcaldy on Yahoo!’s map — in completely the wrong place.

Where Yahoo thinks Kirkcaldy is

Remember my post about Feeder a couple of months ago? No? Anyway, I love Last.fm. I’ve just discovered that there is a tag called ‘real feeder‘. Unfortunately only three songs are tagged with it so far — but I think it’s a funny idea. I found this out through the Last.fm software which I finally got round to downloading. It’s very slick — it tells you when a track has been ‘scrobbled’, which is nice. And it’s much faster than the actual website, which is chronically slow at times.

There is an interesting post at canspice.org about tagging (not to be confused with the tagging that you get with memes).

Tagging already has a couple of well-known problems. One of the major ones is the confusion over whether you should use singular or plural. Flickr cleverly bypassed the other problem — words such as ‘bush’ that have two meanings — by creating clusters.

Tagging is about as trendy as it gets these days. You’re setting up a website — but if it hasn’t got tagging involved somewhere, you can take your arse right out of Web 2.0. We don’t need the likes of you around here.

The problem is that each site implements tags completely differently. The plugin that I use to tag posts on my blog automatically converts hyphens into spaces so that when, for instance, somebody searches for ‘formula 1‘ on Technorati, the posts that I tagged with ‘formula-1′ will appear.

Flickr is slightly more restrictive. Spaces are allowed, but you’ve got to stick quotation marks around any tags with more than one word.

del.icio.us is even more restrictive — it won’t let you use spaces at all. So I decided to use the next best thing, which in my view was the hyphen. Unfortunately, most people seem to use what Brad at canspice.org calls the mashup technique. Search for ‘formula-1‘ on del.icio.us and just about all of the entries are posted by me; searching for ‘formula1‘ brings up far more links.

Brad outlined why he thinks more people should use hyphens rather than underscores or the ‘mashup’ technique. The problem is, with the whole tagging idea being that it’s driven from the bottom-up, it’s going to be difficult to get everybody using a standard.

Do many people actually care about tags anyway though?

I tried to bugger off yesterday, but you won’t leave me alone. For I’ve been tagged!

List seven songs you are into right now. No matter what the genre, whether they have words, or even if they are any good, but they must be songs you are really enjoying now. Post these instructions in your blog along with your seven songs. Then tag seven other people to see what they are listening to.

Okay then.

  • Diplo — Into the Sun — I got this album at Christmas, and this track, along with another one called ‘Sarah’, hit me immediately as one of the best things I had ever heard, which doesn’t happen often these days
  • Jackson and His Computer Band (feat. Mike Ladd) — TV Dogs (Cathodica’s Letter) — from one of my very favourite albums of last year; I still listen to it several times a week. Cool, groovy, dense, and chopped up a la Prefuse 73
  • Hot Chip — Beach Party — I saw their new one on E4 Music today and really wanted to hear this stylish song again
  • Gelg — some of the music used on ‘Look Around You’ is really cool. The Boards of Canada influence comes across really strongly
  • Why? — Act Five — don’t really know why I like this one so much
  • The Fiery Furnaces — Seven Silver Curses — I greatly admire this band. I think they are the closest comparison to Radiohead you can come up with, in the sense that they could easily have been safe indie darlings for their whole career. But they refused to, instead alienating the pants-wetting guitar-shaggers and going all electric, eclectic and generally weird
  • The New Pornographers — These are the Fables — and to round it off, some pants-wetting guitar music

Who do I tag? Whoever wants it.

Us bloggers, eh?

Why Do Taggers Tag?

  • Recognition
  • Low self-esteem
  • Peer recognition
  • For recognition; a distorted view of “fame”
  • See it in the community and want to try it too

Hilariously, this list applies equally to graffiti.

1/3 of all blog posts use tags already!

Tagging is great, but it has its problems for sure. One is the old plural versus singular dillema. I don’t have any set rules for which I use, which is a problem.

The second is double meaning. ‘Jaguar‘ and ‘Bush‘ are two that I’ve read about today.

Flickr — oh, they are so great — have come up with an ingenius solution — clustering. So now you can see that Jaguar is separated between a cluster about cars and a cluster about zoos (but not animals?). And Bush is separated into clusters for the president, for nature, for trees and for… graffiti. Okay, so it’s not perfect, but it’s a real improvement.

Now to sort out the singular / plural thing!

As you might have noticed, I’ve been tinkering again. So I’m just posting my usual warning, and if you experience any problems (or simply if you have any feedback) please do tell me!

Categories changed as promised. For instance, ‘LOL_MATE!!!!’ has changed into the rather more prim-and-proper ‘Humour’. I also have new categories like ‘Scotland’. I have also got rid of the hierarchical structure, because I thinkthe relationships between categories are intertwining rather than hierarchical. It’s amazing how Technorati tags have changed my attitude to categories…

Update: The blogroll’s also been given a shakeup.