Tagging Moves from the Virtual to the Real World

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by: Idris Mootee

Wonder who actually invented tagging? Many are quick to say social tagging started with del.icio.us and social voting started with digg. Back in 1991, Xerox PARC was working on such ideas in a system called
Tapestry which was described in a 1992 Communications of the ACM
article. You can read the article here. Here’s what I’ve taken from that article:

“The Tapestry system was designed and built to support collaborative filtering.
Collaborative filtering simply means that people collaborate to help
one another perform filtering by recording their reactions to documents
they read. Such reactions may be that a document was particularly
interesting (or particularly uninteresting). These reactions, more
generally called annotations, can be accessed by others’ filters.” (Emphasis theirs.)

If you read this carefully, this paper was the first to use the term
‘collaborative filtering”. It assumed that “some annotations are
themselves complex objects, and those annotations are more simply
stored as separate records with pointers back to the document they
annotate.” This design would sound familiar to anyone who had
implemented a “modern” social tagging and voting system. Xerox Parck
had came up with so many great innovations and unfortunately they were
less successful in bringing them to the market. It’s always interesting
to read an old paper and get some historical perspective in the age of

Here’s a funny piece of how “tagging” moves to the real world. In
cities like Berlin and Seoul guerrilla “taggers” have been tagging
outdoor ads with personal evaluations delivering messages such as “this
ad makes me sick”, “I like this ad”, “I find this campaign boring” etc.
It’s a guerrilla action with the objective of raising the level of
consumers’ awareness about the quality of advertising. I am not sure
the ad agencies like this idea.

Here’s big idea. Let us develop a TV commercial tagging system via a
remote control that allows us to assign “relevance” or “entertainment
value” to TV ads. Those who are tagged most as more entertainment will
be played more or paying less for their airtime than those tagged with
“boring”. This way we can bring 2.0 old ideas to television
advertising. What do you thing?

Original Post: http://mootee.typepad.com/innovation_playground/2007/08/tagging-moves-f.html