I like to think about things. I especially like thinking about things logically, piece-by-piece. Tagamac itself is a great example of this; it seems to me that most blogs get started because someone thinks to themselves, “I wanna blog about Spam!” (or whatever random topic) and sits down and does it. I thought to myself, “Gee, tagging is swell!” and then sat down and methodically listed out the things that I would write about. Seriously; I’ve got the OmniOutliner documents to prove it.
This tendency also translates into my advice on tagging. When I came up with the idea of “the what“, it was because I had sat down and tried to think of the most efficient way to tag. The article didn’t come from a system; the system came from the article. But mine is not the only way.
Arnaud Leene notes that “the what” is a very formal way to tag. He’s right; identifying “the what” is a step-by-step process focused on consciously crafting a consistent tagging system. It’s not fun. It’s not flashy. It’s plodding and onerous. When I myself take the time to sit down and identify the attributes that I’m tagging, I feel like some sort of robot. Hello-I-am-tag-o-tron, well-oiled-machine.
I have to admit, though, that not everyone in this world is addicted to logic or methodically moving from point A to point B. In fact, I suspect that most people turn to tagging because they find it easier than using single folders or categories. When you’re tagging, you can just toss any jumble of words on something in the hope that it’ll make finding things easier in the future. Choosing a tag isn’t a life-or-death, here-or-there choice. It’s naming a possibility.
No matter how much you take my advice on finding “the what” (or anything else) to heart, when you’re tagging things in everyday life you should always remember that tagging is about making easy choices. If you find yourself freaking out about what tag to assign to your photo of Aunt Sally, then you may as well not be tagging because you’ll be wasting as much energy and time as if you had thrown the photo in a random folder and then had to search for it later. If you think about “the what” more than you tag, then that system isn’t working for you.
Whether you lean more towards sober planning or random free-loving tag-fests, if you’re able to find the method that makes assigning tags to an item nothing more than several easy choices, you’ll be reaping the benefits of tagging in no time.