This post describes what good game designers do to "turn your brain on" or "cognitive arousal." Passionate Users Blog has tweaked some gaming design rules to apply to NON-game experience. Which experiental pleasures does tagging give its users?
Typology of Cognitive Pleasures
(in no particular order)
1. Discovery User experience as exploration of new territory
2. Challenge User experience as obstacles to overcome, goals lying just beyond current skill and knowledge levels
3. Narrative User experience as story arc (user on hero's journey) and character identification
4. Self-expression User experience as self-discovery and creativity
5. Social framework User experience as an opportunity for interaction/fellowship with others
6. Cognitive Arousal User experience as brain teaser
7. Thrill User experience as risk-taking with a safety net
8. Sensation User experience as sensory stimulation
9. Triumph User experience as opportunity to kick ass
10. Flow User experience as opportunity for complete concentration, extreme focus, lack of self-awareness
11. Accomplishment User experience as opportunity for productivity and success
12. Fantasy User experience as alternate reality
13. Learning User experience as opportunity for growth and improvement
We thought we'd get the early bus -- we were up anyway from jetlag. Unfornately, the bus driver left us off at the wrong building. It was almost a mile or so down the road. We started walking and luckily David stopped and offered us a ride!
from a post by Steve Eisner who writes a blog called A Social Life
Some points for me:
Defines two different types of tag behavior: Consuming Taggers: People who stalk other people's tags. Prefer to use their own vocabularly. Publishing Taggers: Haven an incentive to match their audiences' vocabularies.
"At the same time, the network benefits of social bookmarking depend on enough publishers agreeing upon a common vocabulary. Although these forces are somewhat in opposition, things work out pretty well for most topics. Equilibrium is quickly reached as everyone agrees on a few common tags."
Tag mess happens when the topic is complex, new, or very specific. Tag-based solutions break down and everyone starts speaking their own language. Confusion results in a huge variations of tags. (Example here)
How to clean up the mess::
Gather usage data and calculate tag values
Expose tag values to publishers
Provide new ways to browse tags
Indirectly associate user-specific tags to high-value public tags
Getting past the tag mess (and making tagging palatable to a more controlled enterprise environment) starts with the recognition that for any particular piece of content, not every tag has the same value. If you want to encourage a certain subset of tags, expose tag values to publishers. Their natural desire to reach an audience means that they will gravitate towards the most valuable tags. But this doesn’t just mean showing a tagger the previous tags that people have used. Assuming “value” is based on whether this tag will help your audience find this content, then the tags that people are already searching for must be worth much more – even if fewer people are currently using those tags.
Tag Equivalence: What this means is that users can tag items with some original term, but if another term becomes more popular, the first term can somehow be declared equivalent to the new term, so searchers will find the intended content. Whether automatically applied or added manually, this equivalence can greatly increase the network benefit of a bookmarking application.
Talks about the benefits to consumers (people who tag for themselves) and publishers (people who tag to get noticed by others).
Summarzing from the article:
Benefits to Consumers Reason 1: Can categorize and organize collections of bookmarks. Anyone who’s saved more than a handful of links can see the benefit, and quickly picks up the metaphor: tagging is like putting a bunch of
items into a shared folder.
Reason 2: Allow the user to express tags using personal vocabulary. It takes a lot of work to settle upon a public vocabulary for any particular topic. As evidenced by endlessly recurring “what tag should
we use for this?” conversations, the right terms might not even exist at the time of tagging! A purely selfish tagger has very little incentive to use common, group-accepted terms over words he uses every
day. So one thing to assume while developing an enterprise app is that users do not want to be taught how to tag, at least not before they’ve gotten enough personal benefit to start accepting tagging.
Benefits to Publishers
Reason: The ability to easily organize and publish collections of content.
It’s possible to use them to push content to interested people through integration and syndication.
While this may cause most readers to think of RSS feeds, that’s not the only way that data can be syndicated. In fact, it probably doesn’t even register in the enterprise yet - the most common form of syndication in today’s enterprise is sending documents and links in e-mail, a low-tech solution that works pretty well for sending single items.
Everything changes when you’re able to easily add tags to content at its original source. The use of tags introduces a separation between content’s repository and the collections it’s in. Tags can be used to collect content from multiple repositories, just like a federated search engine indexes keywords across several
sources. New collections can be created with no more effort than thinking of a new tag term. After the collection has been created, bookmarking services allow you to send entire sets of links, usually
providing nice compact URLs to ease the process. Even when the feed is primarily designed for your own consumption, it can just as easily be shared with others should the need arise. Better yet, the collections
keep updating as you continue tagging.
"From now on I’m going to call this idea the “Del.icio.us Lesson”. This is the lesson that personal value precedes network value: that selfish use comes before shared use. We’re
seeing it more and more everyday in services like Del.icio.us, Flickr, and is an interesting aspect of networked applications. Even though we’re definitely benefitting from the value of networked software, we’re still not doing so unless the software is valuable to us on a
personal level first.
Personal value >> Network effects >> Personal value
There is a panel on nonprofit and tagging taking place netsquared. There is some interesting discussion threads taking place. Even if you're not attending in person, you may have some questions or observations to add. Some of the questions:
Why some people love discovery aspect of tagging and others don't?
How do we get past this debate to the point where we can set up some
good learning experiments with the use of tagging for nonprofit
organizations and reap some good lessons learned or practices?
you've gotten past this debate in your organization and are using
tagging, what have you learned?
What would advice would you give to
other organizations just beginning to experiment?
How do enthusiasts of tagging talk about tagging less transcendentally
and more in terms of "you can use this technique to achieve X, Y, Z?
But if we want to really catalyze the use of tags in the npo world, it
sure wouldn't hurt to get some of those e.d.s on board, and we haven't
found the argument for that yet. What is it?
How can you use tags to organize and find content?
via Emily of Emily's World comes another example of nonprofit tagging. The organization is The Creative Coast Initiative and they appear to be using del.icio.us to organize resources to be published on their site. They have several different feeds for each cateogries or tags: including news/events, jobs, resumes, real estate, etc.
The organization is "a public/private partnership responsible for attracting and growing brain-based businesses in Savannah." The partners include the City, County, Economic Development Authority, and "technology leaders." Hmm .. tagging a redevelopment, revitalization strategy?
I'm going to do some further research and find out a little bit more. Perhaps I can coax them to share a little bit more of what they're doing over at the discussion about nonprofit tagging for netsquared
This is what I'm wondering:
What was the planning process around tagging to produce the RSS feeds?
Who in the organization is doing the tagging?
What is the tag design?
How are they using tagging?
What was the ED's view about the use of tagging to publish to the web site?
What value does the use of tagging bring to their organization?
Anything to share about what they're learning about using tagging this way?
For many, tagging is for sharing their own information and watching others. Even if you tag mostly to remember your own stuff, it is difficult to remain untouched by the presence of others. This article will explore how tagging lets us connect with others.
"The beauty of tagging is that it taps into an existing cognitive process without adding add much cognitive cost.
At the cognitive level, people already make local, conceptual
observations. Tagging decouples these conceptual observations from
concerns about the overall categorical scheme. The challenge for
tagging systems is to then do what the brain does - intelligent
computation to make sense of these local observations, and an
efficient, predictable way to ensure findability."
The paper that caught my eye was about the use of tagging on a corporate intranet. It describes the design and implementation of a pilot (not yet completed). Some of the questions they hope to learn in the evaluation are:
Our main objective is to determine whether social bookmarking tools can be useful to our employees. We would like to understand in which ways the tool is being used, e.g., simply as a personal bookmarking tool, for information discovery, as a mechanism for sharing and disseminating information, as a repository for project-related resources, and/or for expert finding.We are also interested in the social influences and evolution. Will virtual communities develop? Are people more likely to copy or view the most popular bookmarks (hence making them more popular)? How will use and behaviors (both individual and community) change over time? Are people more likely to use tags others have already adopted? Will tags begin to converge ? Will new tags be introduced as “communicative tools” and will they be adopted by others? What other innovative or unanticipated uses will emerge?
The Art Museum Social Tagging Project is a group of art museums is looking at integrating folksonomies into the museum Web by developing a working prototype for tagging and term
collection, and outlining directions for future development and research that could benefit the entire museum community.
The project uses a tool named STEVE, an open-source tool for enabling social tagging of museum object images to create folksonomies. I first heard about this project last November and thought I might check in on it.
Why social tagging could be useful in a museum context:
Museums want audiences to engage with their collections and ideas, but recognize that traditional methods of unidirectional on-line and in-gallery communications have limited access and dialog. Supporting social tagging of museum collections, and providing access based on the resulting folksonomy, opens museum collections to new interpretations that reflect visitors’ perspectives rather than institutional ones. This co-operation between museums and visitors bridges the gap between the professional language of the curator and the popular language of the museum visitor, and helps individuals see their personal meanings and perspectives in public collections.
This is the part of the paper that I found most interesting:
Museums want their communities to connect with their collections. Projects that explore this challenge, encourage users to interpret works of art by placing them in their personal
narrative. Built on constructivist educational theory, that emphasizes personal meaning-making and a user-centered focus in the development on-line and in-gallery experiences, these projects strive to provide a unique and compelling engagement with works of art.
ocial tagging appeals to museums because it embodies these self-directed learning philosophies: tagging is a dialog between the viewer and the work, and the viewerand the museum. A tag is a user’s assertion that a work of art is about something. Tagging offers a way for people to connect directly with works of art, to own them by labeling or naming them – one of the aspects of sensemaking.
Tagging also lets users assert personal perspectives and associations between objects. Small individual efforts aggregate into unique pathways through a complex context. Embracing these alternative perspectives is a significant departure for museums, reflecting a growing understanding of museums’ places in a diverse community, and a desire to enable social engagement.
Tagging in a museum context may differ from social bookmarking because of pre-existing types of social relationships. Tagging projects could help foster and maintain links with specialized groups like volunteers and docents, or support the work of teachers and students.
Rather than being motivated by personal gain, a socialaltruism kicks in. This is reflected in the way the Cleveland Museum of Art links to its on-line tagging tool: “Help
others find this object”.
Tagging is a personal investment in the museum’s collection. The visitor adds value for the
museum, for themselves, and for other visitors by revealing distinct perspectives and communities. Museums can use analysis of tags to learn more about their visitors and to support their use of collections. We readily imagine tag-powered visualizations that exploit relationships between tags and existing museum documentation, or more ‘fun’ tools (like flickr Tag Fight. Sharing common tags, or pushing a “feed” of works of art based on tag subscriptions, could also facilitate the personal exploration of collections and offer more active connections between museums and users.
the new information landscape is streaming by at supersonic speeds, we
find ourselves working overtime to “get our minds around” the essential
issues, trends and data of our times. Making meaning is harder than
speeds? We open our e-mail and watch a stream of messages flow into our
mailboxes. Some of them are correspondence, some of them spam and many
of them information “alerts” we have set in motion by subscribing to
many of the services that may be tailored to our interests and needs.
It is hard to keep up with this torrent.
fixes, wizards and templates abound as substitutes for deeper
understanding, but the ultimate answer to information abundance and
degradation is unrelenting pondering and questioning. The better we are
at interpreting the data and challenging the assumptions behind them,
the greater our chances of handling the riddles, the conundrums and the
paradoxes that are so prevalent. Questions make it possible.
Today, I gave someone a ride in my car and I had to apologize for being a car slob. I have some good excuses - have young kids who eat in the car, I'm too crazy busy to clean it up, it has almost 100,000 miles, etc.
Well, I'm also a tagging and rss slob. I'm not going to put the link in to it - but tagging and rss encourages my sloppiness. I need to change my habits and be a little more neater and thoughtful.
Only stuff you need to find later or think is really fantastic
Try to clean up delicious tags for stuff like mispellings, etc. - perhaps this might need some regular maintenace
Think about your categories and try to be consistent
Do a radical weeding of you bloglines - unsubscribe from any that you don't find real value in reading anymore. Reorganize the folders in bloglines. Try to find meta feeds or teach yourself how to use the tools to splice together feeds. This is my next personal learning area ...
Silver Surfer Week is intended to encourage UK older people (over 50) to find somewhere this week where they can have a good first experience of Internet/email free of charge. They hope to get at least 10,000 over-50s to take their first mouse clicks onto the Internet. There are all types of different facilities throughout the UK making their computers available. There will be volunteers and staff helping guide newcomers on to the Internet .
Okay, when we talk about the "why" of tagging - we use two words - findability and discovery. I love the way Marnie Webb phrased it in this comment.
"Discovery allows me to play. Wonder through tag streams and find related items in a way that helps me get at various topics in a much different way than search."
On the other side, I have a colleagues who hate, no HATE, this part of the tagging experience and think it is a big fat waste of time. One colleague who I respect said this to me: "Although following other people's tags is interesting, so is wandering around the library looking through books in certain sections, but it is a huge time vacumn, considering the actual usefullness and applicability of what I find is usually nil."
This is what think - I think it has to do with learning styles and myer briggs personality types. I haven't come across specific research, but Nancy White mentioned this in her presentation about the Seven Competencies of Online Interaction that "Interacting online involves thinking/moving laterally not
hierarchically. Global thinkers, those who absorb large amounts of information randomly and then see patterns, do better than sequential thinkers who tend to take linear steps that follow in a logical order." So, how can we make tagging easier for sequential thinkers?
Dorine is currently involved a pilot project for KM4DEV where a community of practice is collaborating on sharing delicious feeds. She recently posted about a demonstration she gave during a meeting with members of the "Dutch ‘e-collaboration’ group" about tagging and social-bookmarking.
In the comments, I prodded her to share some of her experience about using tagging as a tool to share resources in a community of practice context. She gave me some very rich reflections as a reply in the comments
The "how to" of CoP group tagging is an obstacle in getting to the "why" (exposing the intelligence of the group, thus making resources more findable.)
What central tag to use to get an item noticed?
Can anyone use this tag or do we want to create a special feed/account to provide filtered information? (BK: I wonder how the "network" feature or "private groups" feature of delicious influences this?)
What tags to use to describe items, who decides this?
What items to tag in the first place, do we need rules for this?
One of her points resonated with some other reflections I'm seeing on this side of the pond from early adopters in the nonprofit space in using tagging for resource sharing. Her point is this: Getting people motivated to tag content (easy tool, easy approach) and at the same time create good content as output (quality selection of sources, good descriptions and tags) is just very difficult.
She identifies some of the tension-points. I've translated these into some questions that nonprofits might discuss as part their experimentation with organizational tagging and perhaps leading to a tagging policy that works for the group:
Who in our organization must be involved? Everyone or can it work within sub-group?
How do we create an environment where people are eager to participate or do you focus on providing a high quality resource of information?
What if people in our group are re-finding items tagged that others have tagged before?
(Does that contribute to the willingness to participate or pollute the tag stream and create information overload?)
What if items are tagged that are interesting, but not on the topic most of the group wants to focus on?
Your tag or mine? Then there's the problem of naming your tags. Everyone has a slightly different way of thinking about things - I say Myeloma, you say Multiple Myeloma. Without a standard set of published, prompted tags, chaos could reign. Then again if you only allow pre-created tags, there's not flexibility for users to create their own world view within the tags. Trying to do both would result in "tag goo" (a term I literally just invented). (BK: Would it?)
So let's say I have all these great tags... maybe hundreds of them. At that point, even a nicely formatted "tag cloud" would only serve up quantity, not quality of links - and from there I'd have to sift through perhaps tens or thousands of links in a much less efficient way than by just using Google from the start.
In the comments of this post, there is an interesting discussion thread that also points out the question, "How do you deal with information overload? Doesn't tagging create information overload? Why not just use search?"
The term information overload made me think of Marshall's fabulous interview with Robin Good on netsquared: "Mastering Information Overload." Good is advocating for a new type of knowledge worker - he calls them Newsmasters. These are human filters "who subscribe to the RSS feeds of a large number of sources, search queries, and other dynamic sources. The person uses a combination of machine automation and topic-specific expert knowledge. The most important information resulting from these filtered subscriptions is then delivered to end users, either by RSS, email, on a web site or by whatever delivery is appropriate. Central to the concept is that one person is responsible for curating information for others in the group or community." (The last part makes feel a little uncomfortable.)
So, how does the Newsmaster avoid information overload? Are these the early adopters of the Internet and whose brains have evolved along with the growth of electronic information and have superhuman prcocessing skills? (Not the early adopters suffering from Alzheimers) What's their secret?
Marshall notes in his article: "Newsmastering is all about acting as a curator of the huge new stream of information that is coming to us every day .... thus the decision often comes down to What can I afford not to read?" Ah, what Will Richardson did on Earth Day. Ah ha, the environmental metaphor calls to mind David Shenk's Data Smog: Surviving the Information Glut" and my favorite line in the book, "Give a hoot, don't data pollute."
Marshall also describes some simple technical approaches:
Newsmastering can be as simple as splicing multiple RSS feeds together into a mix with a tool like FeedDigest.com. The next step in sophistication is to filter your feeds and be specific in your sources. More complex topics require strategic choices in sources and filters.
Lest this appears as simple as just finding interesting things on the internet, Robin points out that not just anyone can be a good Newsmaster. The most important qualities to have are passion and competence in the particular field being covered. In order to select, edit and manage the real information gems in any sector, a Newsmaster must have a deep familiarity to recognize news and resources in their proper context.
So, no grand conclusions on any of this, but plenty of good questions for discussion and further experimentation and learning ....
These are excellent practical tips for choosing tags - either if you're doing this for your own personal information management or to use as a guide to help your organization come up with a tagging policy or at least some standard tags.
UPDATE: I've published a resource on tagging and nonprofits. If you're just discovering my blog or tagging for nonprofits via this post, check out my Nonprofit Tagging Wikispace.
Quite an interesting thread on the riders tech list on using tagging for nonprofits.
Michael Gilbert's comments are right on:
The reason tagging worked for us (and the reason it works for social bookmarking sites) is exactly as Dan Cooney describes it. It made things findable to the person who did the tagging. It does that for several reasons: (1) People use words that they themselves like to use to categorize things. (2) It is more straightforward than choosing a folder. (autocomplete makes it even more so). (3) It exposes the document to the intelligence of the group, which may add other tags, making it even more findable.
Our users developed several other ways to work with tags (in addition to per-tag RSS - and yes, we were using Dave Winer's early drafts of the RSS format): (1) They hand compiled one-off collections of links for particular purposes (such as references for a report) and then applied tags after the fact to the whole batch. (2) They used saved searches, for which they also had RSS feeds. (3) As with Del.icio.us, they had access to "what's new" feeds for the system as a whole and for specific users.
Just found Sonny Cloward's post about how he used delicious/tags to get resource content published and organized on the Web site. Here's his post explaining how he did it. Here is what the resource section looks like.
Therefore added thought bubbles to represent the publishing side of the tag usage. Sonny's would be using tags to publish a resource directory to a web site. The informal is an organizational's informal sharing of resources with clients - off the official site, face-to-face, sharing the delicious url, or in person.
What I like about his approach is that he explains the work flow process:
My aim in using a set of webs services to create content on our
website was to give staff the ability to easily manage portions of the
site without having to get heavily involved in the Drupal CMS interface
(and editing UI). With help from Marnie, I began to understand how I could bootstrap the RSS feeds generated by del.icio.us
in order to create dynamic content on an otherwise static website,
while giving control and responsibility to the staff to manage their
sections of the website (and in the process freeing me up). Here's are
the tools we use and how we use them:
So everytime a program manager comes across a valuable web resource, they simply use the Firefox plugin to
add it to del.icio.us, and it is automatically added
to the appropriate resource listing on CERF's website.
I've just discovered Kivi Leroux Miller's Blog on Nonprofit Communications. Her blog covers fundraising, media relations, and other related communications topics. She also runs a site called Writing911 that helps people who work for nonprofits improve their writing.
She is the organizer of a blog carnival for nonprofit consultants. As stated on the site, the purpose is: "This carnival is a collection of the best advice and resources that consultants and other support organizations are offering to nonprofits through their blogs each week."
The details on how to participate, topics, and schedules can be found here.
Just came across this interesting example of nonprofit tagging via a blog post on netsquared by enoch choi. Dr. Choi is an individual contributor to Google Health Co-op and works on the
non-profit Palo Alto Medical Foundation's tagging efforts @ Google
Health Co-op as well. The intent of the tagging is to improve healthcare search for patients.
Here is his description from one of his personal blog posts:
The work I’m doing with Google Co-op involves helping make a list of
the URL (universal resource locator, the web address) of websites to
improve health-related searches. These labels will appear at the top of
Google search results for search queries regarding any health related
term. Subscribing to me means you trust my annotations (tagged links)
and those links increase in importance within your search results when
you use google to look for health topics. I’ve been tagging via
del.icio.us for a while, and my purpose was to try to help make higher
quality health information easier for people to find. I don’t see how
Yahoo has been improving del.icio.us and the bookmarklet is getting
slower and slower.
Pretty powerful - combining tagging with search - the human curation of information. Reminds me of something I read in Andrew Blau's paper, "More Than Bit Players" and now can't find it exactly.
In two weeks, I'll be attending the netsquared conference. I'm participating person, but there are also opportunities to join the conversation remotely and add your questions or observations to the content of the conference. Just
go to the list of conference sessions and
click on a theme and a session topic that interests you.
At the bottom of
the session description you have two options. You can either post a question
to be asked at the session, or write a blog post to start the conversation
Even though the conference is still two weeks away, the folks at netsquared are
encouraging people to post their questions and comments now so that they can
be incorporated during the event.