Friday, November 18, 2005

Tag! You're It!: Talking Tag Turkey with Technorati's Kevin Marks

Before I got embroiled in the film festival and then hopped over to the Corante Symposium on Social Architecture, my friend Dawno sent me an email asking if I could help her figure out how to get those pesky Technorati tags to work for her. She said:
I was wondering if you feel that the Technorati tags are worth the effort. I was frustrated tonight when I thought I'd tag my post about women in tech but the tag Technorati's site gave me was "women" and not what I was looking to be 'sorted' with. How do you deal with that?

After playing with tags for a bit, I figured a few things out about them: that you have to use them consistently to come up in the Recently Updated catgories; that you can indeed tag in categories that aren't necessarily exactly what you want but may lead some readers to your site (who might actually read you); and that tagging can help you to focus your content a bit better (kind of like adjusting the lens on binoculars).

I told Dawno that tagging with "tech" as well as "women" will get both tech and women readers to her site. Hey, I'm all for beating the bushes in two categories! Also, she could now use the "Blog Finder" to make her blog easier to find as well as create her own tags. So, if she really really wants a "women in tech" tag, she could create it *and* have it all to herself (until some other enterprising person finds it and uses it too).

So when I ran into Kevin Marks of Technorati at the cocktail party after the Symposium I said "ah ha! you're with the Evil Empire!"

"No, no," he laughed, "we're really the Rebel Alliance!" and to some degree he's right.

We got to talking about what I mentioned to Dawno about the use of tags--to use them consistently, and to create your own if necessary--and he said this was spot on. From using tags consistently and regularly, I have begun to see how, with a blog like Snarkaholic, they are quite helpful for getting readers.

That, he said, was pretty much the point of tags--to help drive traffic to blogs by putting them in categories people would want to search.

I also noted to Kevin that tagging is quite helpful for honing one's content. I do indeed think that if one wants readership, and one is not either flashing a boob, exposing one's sex life, or geeking out with gadget-talk, and one is not an "insider" or "authority" of any kind, or isn't co-opting a people's medium to start her own media empire (yes, Huffington, I mean you) one has to have an intention or clear focus to one's blog. (one could also socialize like crazy, although that's another topic for later discussion)

In our conversation, I got to mention to Kevin that I spoke with Dave Sifry, that he was quite gracious and friendly, and that after the talk I had a better understanding of how big a job Technorati has in scaling the web--that there's just so much the algorithms can handle at one time and that the web has a strange, almost elastic quality to it. The blogosphere looks so vast, yet is so densly populated that it is very unweildy to scale--it expands exponentially and trying to count and categorize all of it to meet the needs of all the bloggers out there is something akin to the labor of Sisyphus.

Which he also agreed! it was nice to hear that my observations of the whole thing are in concert with what Kevin sees thru working with the stuff.

While I get a bit pissy when I don't show up Technorati's Recently Updated in a timely manner, I do indeed realize that no system right now is either perfect enough nor strong enough to handle the massive amount of content that is out there. It's nothing personal but rather something mathematical.

oh, well.

After my 2 drink minimum and far too much excellent sushi, I bid Kevin adieu and headded back to my hotel.

And then, when I read my email, Dawno sent me this piece by Daniel Terdimanabout tagging. Ah, the synchornicity of the universe!


Dawno said...

If my name is going to be bandied about with the illumati of cyberspace, maybe I should start tagging my posts "Dawno" and see if I become a minor celebrity...

I've not been religious about tagging posts, especially the ones that are more general blathering. I can see the value in tagging posts that weigh-in on the conversation at hand.

Thank you for asking about it and sharing what you've learned.

Tish Grier said...

Hey, you never know about the minor celebrety stuff!

I know what you mean about the 'general blathering' posts. I tried tagging on my personal blog, but because the posts are rather esoteric, they didn't quite work for me.

It all depends on the intent of the blog. if the intention is more to having it be a diary kind of thing, I'm not sure that tagging is all that helpful. Alot of people are super-adverse to looking under tags such as "life" or "love"...and when they do, they might be looking more for porno than for anything else (you'd be surprised). When it comes to the more personal stuff, I tend to do things the old fashioned way by using words in posts that will make the post more topic-searchable (just the title of the personal blog puts it in top 10 searches) and I do the old fashioned meet and greet thing of going around to other personal blogs, leaving comments, intro'ing myself. It's a hit or miss system but on the strictly persona/intimat end of things, it works a bit better than tagging.

Dawno said...

Well I did create a Dawno tag and am using it. Did you know that "dawno" is also a word in some eastern european language? I think it's part of an idiom like "once upon a time, a long, long time ago" (Google is my heroin)

My blog hasn't got a real 'theme' to it - it's not really a journal so much as a place to share my way of looking at stuff. I've addressed political and social stuff as well as personal stuff. I also LOVE tech so I try to share my enthusiasm there - which is why I want to make the best, most use of blog tech that I can - when I understand it. Frankly, I think the real evidence that something techie might be workable for the run of the mill, semi-computer literate person would be to beta test it on me :-)

Tish Grier said...

Every time I go to google, I have to fight to not google myself (damn! I hate saying that--it sounds really nasty) and sometimes I don't like the results....

Essentially, alot of blogging is about people sharing their thoughs. It's not like the crap that Forbes magazine recently spewed (which I'm preparing a post about) where we're all just attacking someone we're jealous of. that's not the point of blogging anyway...

I have a love-hate relationship with tech. I consider myself non-tech, but I understand it (oddly enough). kind of like being able to understand the written explanations of newton's theories but never getting the math part. To some degree, we all have to understand something about tech these days. It's part of our lives and if we want to avoid getting left in the dust, we have to use it in some way. but, man! if something's too difficult to use, I'm so outta there....

Sour Duck said...

The title your post made me immediately think of "Tag, you're it! (and no longer a person)" by Media Girl.

Nice piece.

spcoon said...

hey tish, i caught your comment over at factoryjoe and came over to check out your spot.

i wish i knew about this conference, but your epiphany of why rich tagging is so important is where i've been living for a few of months now.

as interface presentations and structured (and standardized) tagging become smarter, richly tagged content will be easily found and leveraged in n number of monetization scenarios.

it's an exciting time, but as you alluded to on chris' blog, men in old school capitalism power seats will do whatever they can to keep socialized capitalism from occuring.

keep on keeping on.