So, Greg Linden of Findory was kind enough to drop by yesterday and leave some thoughts regarding my post on automated tag creation. Greg, I realized this morning — with a fresh pair of eyes — that I completely missed the point of your comment (sorry); you weren’t asking so much about the implementation or the ‘need’ I was solving for… you were (I’m now guessing) asking about the value of tags in general (especially vs. search).
Let me take a quick (overly simple) shot at describing what I see as the key difference(s).
In my mind:
– Tags describe what something is, is about, etc; whereas
– Search allows me to discover a set of “objects” that contain my query tokens
Tags are pretty obvious in a “low text” environment, e.g., photos (Flickr was nowhere close to being the first to use tags with photos). With photos, if the user doesn’t annotate, there’s precious little meta-data to use for discovery in most use cases. (EXIF headers **generally** offer little more than a time/date stamp to help discover photos; other EXIF data like camera make/model is much less useful.) So here, tags are good, as is any other lightweight scheme that would help users avoid the “shoebox” situation.
But tags are also interesting in a “high text” environment, where there is a lot of “extra information” that can lead to false positives. For example, neither this post nor my last post are about Greg Linden or Findory. Yet, if I wanted to find all of my posts that were about either of those entities using Search, both this post and the last post would be surfaced, thereby degrading the relevancy of the result set.
Hopefully that’s a bit more helpful; definitely interested in continuing the conversation.
I have more to say, but I’m really waiting on the other shoe to drop so that I can tie a couple of different things together here. Sigh.