Tag This!

Internet | Familiarity
“Blog This!” the button on your browser’s Google toolbar beckons. You click the button, and see a prompt for name and password. Sign up, and boom! you’re one of 27,000 people a day who create a blog– perhaps most of whom don’t even know it, or may not be sure you wanted to do that.

As I’ve explained, blogs are different things to different people. Rebecca Blood one of those people who is more respected than most, and here’s her recent definition: “The weblog is at once a scrapbook, news filter, chapbook, newsletter, and community.”

Now suppose you don’t want to do a newsletter– or, if you’re like myself, you reserve publishable material for a civ-style website such as this one. So you just want a scrapbook to save bookmarks to web pages, along with some quick comments.

That’s where a social bookmarking tool like del.icio.us comes along. My first impression of delicious– “it looks rather wild and untamed”– came when I signed up for bloglines and jotted a quick post on social bookmarking. I learned that they are much the same, save for one key difference; bloglines manages subscriptions to feeds (individual websites); delicious manages bookmarks to individual web pages.

Making a bookmark with delicious is easy. Given a webpage, I click a button in my toolbar, I enter my comment and some classification tags, and I’m done, and they’re organized for me.

The only thing hard about it is the phrase “Making a bookmark with delicious…” this is a mouthful, no? It would really catch on if it were a simple verb, like “blog” has become. Why not “tag”? This is the classification word du jour, also in use by technorati for classifying one’s own content. Sorry, for tagging one’s own content. You pick a tag, somebody else uses the same tag, and it’s all grouped together.

I’ve posted a few items with the webcred tag for the recent Berkman conference. Tonight I mustered the courage to conjure up my own tag. I’m always on the lookout for what people call “blog triumphalism”– the unsurpassed optimism that something is better because it’s done via a blog. I find more examples of this faster than I can contextualize them for essays. Conversely, Jay Rosen of NYU and author of PressThink, the new Talmud of blog triumphalism, claims to hardly find any. Rosen has been found of saying, “Everyone’s always de-bunking. Who’s putting up the bunk?” Well today he’s changed his tune, and he now acknowledges that that the “booster mindset… should be criticized.” So I thought I’d help out by creating the tag blogbunk. I tagged ten pieces tonight; two of the mine, and some of them from my research files that I hadn’t gotten around to using yet. I invited some sharp minds to join in.

Mark my words: Google will introduce a “Tag This!” service by the end of the year. And we’ll have more people tagging– and more people making tag posts than blog posts. It’s just a matter of efficiency. Rebecca told me she’d still keep weblogging herself, but I’m a little curious about everyone else.

Update, the next day: Rebecca bet me a latte, and I folded. I thought about this overnight– certainly our culture is more expressive than utilitarian. And maybe I do learn more about people through pictures of their cats than what they’ve bookmarked. well, either way, this needs to be studied.