Corralling Useful InformationSometime in the next couple of months, I will move to Google's upgraded Blogger software. The major attraction for me is the ability to tag my posts. I'll be able to attach one or more labels to each post, which will make it considerably easier for a visitor to find what I've had to say on specific topics, such as business acumen, since I started the Streamline Training & Documentation blog in April 2006. (In the meantime, a visitor can use the search function at the top of the screen to get a listing of posts touching on a particular topic.)
This coming feature Blogger uses the term "labels" rather than "tags" fits with a clear move, on the Internet and on organization intranets, toward making it easier for people to home in on relevant information when they're researching a topic.
For instance, earlier this month the Wall Street Journal published an article by Michael Totty detailing how social bookmarking (tagging that is shared amongst a group, large or small) improves the retrievability of information:
Social bookmarking is seen as a simple way to enhance search tools by letting users mark their saved files with their own keywords, called "tags," which then can be used to organize, recall or distribute the documents. "It's no complex technology at all," says Jeff Nolan, director of a srategy group at SAP AG in Palo Alto, Calif. ... "People end up using it and getting great value out of it."With social bookmarking, it is no longer necessary to recall the title of a document you are trying to retrieve. If you know what it is about, and you know the keywords/tags that you, or a tagging friend or colleague, have associated with the type of information in the document, you can just search for one of those tags.
There's also an appealing browsing aspect to tagging. You can subscribe to particular tags of interest to you, and you can subscribe to particular users' lists of tags. When a new tag or item is added to one of your subscribed lists, you are automatically notified. For instance, a researcher at IBM "subscribes to the bookmarks of several 'thought leaders' from around IBM to see what kinds of topics they're following. 'There isn't a time that I see their bookmarks without seeing something I'm interested in,' he says."