General

Replacing spaces

Sadly, not all tagging software is coded equal. Sometimes tags are thrown in as just one more bell or whistle, intended to plump up a feature-set without being particularly useful. Other times developers don’t understand tags themselves and end up implementing them in a way that is not as friendly as it should be. Sometimes supporting spaces in tags causes other problems (such is the case when trying to roll your own tagging system using Spotlight comments).

In any case, you may well run across a piece of tagging software that does not allow you to use spaces in your tags, which can be a major pain in the nether regions. What you do about it is really up to you (although of course I have some suggestions), but when you decide remember the tagging mantra: consistency, consistency, consistency. Pick something and stick with it. [read more...]

Some tagging resources

My vision for Tagamac involves turning it into a resource that helps people with all aspects of tagging: understanding the concepts, finding software, creating a workflow, tagging consistently, etc. However, that’s a lot to cover, and it’s going to take me time to get to everything. While I’m plugging away at it, though, there are people out there who want to know how to tag right now. Quite frankly, in its current inception, Tagamac is not particularly helpful when it comes to jumping straight into tags. I don’t have any software recommendations or workflow advice; so far I’ve mainly been defining and offering basic guidelines.

I will try to get some software recommendations and reviews written in the near future, but it may be some time before I’m able to jump headfirst into real workflows. In the meantime, I’d like to offer some good resources elsewhere on the web that you can use to get your tagging system off the ground. Sadly, I haven’t been able to locate many good resources (which is a big reason I started Tagamac, actually), but at least there’s a few. [read more...]

A singular question

Since I published my advice on tagging best practices, the most common question I’ve received has been something along the lines of “why the heck would you use singular tags?” Everyone agrees that consistency is the name of the game, and it’s hard to argue with succinctness. Some people disagree with using lowercase tags, but quite honestly it’s mainly personal preference (unless the program uses case-sensitive searching).

Whether or not to use singular tags, though, is a much more open question, and I’d like to lay out the reasons that I included a recommendation to stick to singular. [read more...]

Tag browsers

Defining tagging

  1. The parts of tagging
  2. Tag browsers
  3. The realms of tagging

One of the reasons that tagging can be difficult to get into is because few tagging systems are alike. Although there are similarities, tagging is not only still evolving as a way of organizing but there are also several different ways to think about tags.

The most striking difference between different tagging programs is generally the tag browser. The act of tagging is fairly standardized (auto-complete, drag and drop, etc.), but browsing is much more heterogeneous. Most browsers fall into one of three types: tag clouds, tag trees, or tag recipes. [read more...]

The parts of tagging

Defining tagging

  1. The parts of tagging
  2. Tag browsers
  3. The realms of tagging

I like to think that tagging is straightforward. It may seem like a strange way to organize and find information at first, but once you get used to it the whole process is not that complicated.

However, even when a subject is not particularly complicated, it can still be difficult to talk about. I have found in my journey through life (and academia, which are not one and the same no matter what they tell you) that one of the most important parts of any discussion of a topic is solid definitions. As a result, I am going to try to break down using tags into simple definitions over the course of several articles. This article is the first, and defines the three actions that you will perform when working with tags: [read more...]

Tagging best practices

Consistency: succinct, lowercase, singularIn all honesty, best practices for tagging vary greatly depending on the type of tagging system and tag browser you are using. Additionally, because tags are so flexible, how you use them also relies a lot on what makes sense to you. There are still some things you should think about when you tag, though, and I think they’re important enough that I’m posting them now before I dive more in-depth into tags.

First off is tagging’s golden rule: be consistent. You can disregard every other piece of advice I give you, but consistency is the single thing you must strive for when tagging. Everything else is window dressing. That said, here are three things that I think almost every tag should be, regardless of what program or system you’re using: succinct, lowercase, and singular. [read more...]

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