Tag Archives: tagging

Semantic Web Technologies

This Fall 2008 semester at the University of Texas, I’m teaching a course on: Semantic Web Technologies

This course approaches understanding Semantic Web technologies from three perspectives:

  • Top-down, theoretical approaches to organizing semantic information including ontologies, taxonomies, knowledge representation and software agents.
  • Bottom-up approaches, sometimes called “emergent semantics” or “the lower case ‘S’ semantic web”, for understanding and creating networked information including XML-based solutions including RDF, XPath and RSS. Also included are smaller, informal systems for organizing Web information including tagging (social bookmarking), microformats and other specific markup and distribution systems.
  • Application approaches focusing on Web Services or “Web 2.0” functionality including distributed (client and server) application design, syndication, Application Programming Interfaces, remote databases and “mash-ups”.

Of course, we have a class blog too: Semantic Web Technologies Blog.

An experiment in consensus tagging

Prentiss Riddle just blogged about his efforts to seed a canonical set of tags with the team at shadows .com for the upcoming South by SouthWest conference and festival.

I think this is a good set of tags, especially the huge list of band names and their tags even if I don’t know and never will know all but a few of the bands that are possible to see during the music part of SXSW. I suspect it is possible that if I actually did learn of the band via the tags, I’d be more likely to still remember them by their tag instead of their complete name. I wonder what that says about the primacy in learned vocabularies. What I do like is that many of the tags I clicked on already have more than a few links to the band’s own Web sites, fan sites and even some (hopefully legal) downloads. That seems to be a great way to bootstrap both getting people to use the offered tags and also to discover some new bands to go and see while they’re here in Austin.

In terms of (ha!) what I call “tag grammar” it is also interesting to debate the use of date information like “2006” or “06” on the end of the main sxsw conference tags as in sxsw2006 vs. sxsw . Thankfully, the year as part of a tag might not be supremely important as most tagging systems show links with the newest first, making it pretty easy to see all the tagged items from the current year first. (Note to all tagging system UI designers – how about some real time sorting options for tags lists and tag clouds? Sorting by date, type and kind could truly transform tagging from a backstop for retrieval to something more essential to the overall information seeking process.) The good thing to help achieve some consensus is that on most pages (within shadows.com at least) you can see related tags or drill down into combinations of tags (a “narrow results” option).