My neighbor thinks I’m crazy! Last year it was my relentless discussion on the wonders of RSS. He’s a smart guy, a savvy senior sales manager for a technology company. I got through and now he’s a big RSS believer (meaning he is over-subscribed). So I started in on tagging, and he said; “What the hell happened to RSS?”
“It’s all connected,” I explained. Connected and driven by our constant struggle to deal with our busy, time compressed lives, the high pressure fire hose of incoming information, our natural curiosity and the countless demands on our attention.
Tagging is a pure expression of our attention. When you add keywords (tags) to put web pages, blog posts and news in context in a social network like del.icio.us you not only create an organization structure that works for you on a personal level, you overtly join into affinity groups. This simple act opens new doors to discovery.
To encourage the adoption of tagging, the newest version of Attensa for Outlook includes tagging toolbars for Outlook and Internet Explorer that make tagging & use of your tags more user friendly. The goal, moving forward, is to make tagging an effortless byproduct of surfing or reading news.
At the moment, tagging networks like del.icio.us work because they are small and limited to the earliest of adopters. As the community grows and the power of tagging is realized by spammers and unscrupulous marketers, spamming tagging social network sites will become a new playground for insidious marketing schemes that overwhelm our attention filters.
One way to solve this problem is to set up personal privacy filters on tags. Tags don’t have to be public to work. Tags can be kept private, shared with a closed network of friends. Privacy protected tag networks can provide the collaborative benefits of a pure attention stream while making it very difficult for tag spammers to muck things up.
Another approach might combine attention stream analytics with tags to separate meaningful tags from spam tags. This could contain both a combination of the tagger’s and community’s attention streams.
In the future, I assume I will be thinking and writing about attention and tag spam often.