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news and thoughts on and around the development of the iCite net
by Jay Fienberg

Tinky, tags and ontologies not at war, dudes

posted: May 21, 2005 2:53:21 PM

Check out Ian Davis' new site, (via Danny Ayers). It's like (with a little Technorati thrown in) refined into a brilliantly simple interaction.

I'd also suggest that is a fine demonstration of how the ontology vs tags argument is spurious (or: bogus, dudes). Tinky's got both tag web and ontology web cred. (See also: Ian's post, Tinky and SKOS.)

(Hm, maybe now I should post my diagram showing how tags are part of trees. I keep wondering if there is any use in deflating the tags vs trees rhetoric, too.)

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Comment by: Zbigniew Lukasiak ·
posted: May 22, 2005 6:41:46 AM

Sincerely I can't see the 'ontology' part there. Could you elaborate on that? I might be mistaken but I think ontology is technically about a tree structure - while tagging is only partial order.

Comment by: Jay Fienberg ·
posted: May 22, 2005 3:26:46 PM

Re, ontologies being more than tree structures: please see the Taxonomies & the 'directed acylic graph' section of the Wikipedia entry on ontologies.

Part of the issue is that "ontologies" are not a common subject we all are well aquatinted with. Perhaps you work with them and know more than I do.

But, largely, I think the contrasting of tags and ontologies makes sense only in that neither term has a clear definition—the former because it's a new term in widespread colloquial usage, and the latter because it's an old term that has been applied to many different types systems in many different types of ways.

But, basically, I'm suggesting that tags are a system of doing something, and that system itself can be said to have an ontology.

In particular, Tinky's use of SKOS shows tags more formally as elements in such a system.

Comment by: Joshua Porter ·
posted: May 23, 2005 6:19:18 PM

Interesting...I don't see how there's any relevance to the tagging, though. When someone clicks on the link, they're not tagging anything themselves, they're unknowingly tagging the URL with whatever tags the link creator wanted to tag it with.

That's aggregating the wishes of the link creator, not the person who is actually performing the activity.

This might be a neat way to measure link effectiveness, but as far as I can tell it's not really about tagging at all.

Comment by: Jay Fienberg ·
posted: May 23, 2005 7:41:20 PM

Interesting comment, Joshua.

What you wrote reinforces my concern that there is not yet a clean definition of "tags" and "tagging", e.g., it seems like you and I asserting incompatible definitions for tagging.

In this case, I am defining tagging as: associating labels (tags) with a URL.

So, I think what you are saying is: the interaction of clicking a link (that is a Tinky-tagged link) has nothing to do with choosing the tags associated with that link.

Clicking is not tagging, right?

But, for me, I created the link and then clicked on it. In other words, my clicking on it is part of the larger interaction of having chosen the tags and created the link—specifically, having created it with Tinky tags and then clicking on the link to activate Tinky.

So, for me, the interaction is not just clicking. It's linking-with-tags (as in posting a Tinky-tagged hypertext link to a live web page) and then clicking.

(btw, I almost always click on the links in my blog entires after I post, to test that they are working and correct. So, I wouldn't find it a problem activating Tinky in this way.)

I don't see the immediate result of this as being very different than tagging in, except that activating takes place in a single form interface.

In both cases, I pick the link and the tags that go with it, and activate it on a site that aggregates links and tags.

(Obviously, there are bigger differences between and Tinky.)

Comment by: Joshua ·
posted: May 26, 2005 1:14:51 PM

I would agree that there is not a clean definition between tags and tagging.

I'm not sure of the incompatibility. Your first four paragraphs get right to the point: clicking is not tagging. We're agreeing there.

I would point out that what you're doing (as site owner) is different than what everyone else who visits your site is doing. You're doing the tagging, they're not. Your intention as arises from your tagging, though valid, is only valid for your actions, mainly because the tags are hidden to others who click them. Thus, aggregating clickthroughs (that aren't yours!) this way and then supposing that there is meaning somehow related to the tagging doesn't seem right.

So not only are tagging and clicking different things, but the aggregations of tagging and clicking tell us different things, too.

In other words, the aggregation of Tinky isn't telling us anything about the tags as it relates to the clickthroughs, but it is telling us two things separately:

1) the effectiveness of the link (clickthroughs)
2) your personal tagging habits

Also, the number of times that you click through (as site owner) says something (I don't know what), but I don't think you can treat those clickthroughs the same as you do the clickthroughs of your users.

In other words, if you click through your link 1 billion times it still doesn't mean that it's a really well written or popular only means that you have too much time on your hands. :)

Comment by: Jay Fienberg ·
posted: May 26, 2005 5:59:41 PM

Thanks for your additional comments, Joshua.

In my appraisal of Tinky, I've basically been ignoring the click-measuring aspect of Tinky. Although Tinky does count click-throughs, it also counts "taggers". But, either way, I haven't really been thinking about tagging in terms of ranking as much as just in terms of labeling.

So, I've been talking about Tinky in terms of your #2 (personal tagging habits).

To me, I see creating a Tinky-tagged link in my blog as not unlike adding a tagged link in They both generate label-named pages that list my link and other links associated with the same tag-label.

But, I wasn't looking at how those aggregate pages are ordered, in terms of what shows up at the top and what does not.

Do you feel that the definition of tagging necessarily includes within it a ranking scheme?

To me, the ranking scheme is something that is (optionally) tacked on to the tagging scheme. In other words, I assume one can relate to tagged collections without utilizing tag-count (or other forms of) ranking.

Maybe this is where I'm looking at it differently than most others?

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