Looking backwards

When I first started using Things to organize my daily tasks, I sat down and took the time to carefully craft a list of tags that I wanted to use. I knew what what kinds of tasks I’d be tagging, so I was able with some creativity to come up with a list that was succinct yet exhaustive. Having worked with that list of tags for a few months, I’ve only added one or two tags.

This tells me my system was a good one. Aside from not needing to expand the tag cloud, most tasks I only need to assign 1-2 tags per task, and and tasks inherit one more based on which project I stick them into. My tag filter bar is clean, and small enough to be useful even in lists with lots of tasks. When I posted the list in the Things wiki I got some very positive feedback. But having used the list religiously for a couple months, I have realized something: about 80% of my tags are completely useless. [read more...]

Tagging book released

Tagging: People-powered metadata for the social webGene Smith, a consultant specializing in information architecture, just published Tagging: People-Powered Metadata for the Social Web. Although the book appears to focus primarily on how to design a collaborative tagging system online, it may well be of interest if you just want to know more about the current thoughts on tagging as a social phenomenon.

I’ve ordered my copy and will post more about it when it arrives. For more information about the book, check out the Tagging companion website. The book is currently for sale through (I’m not sure whether or not you can find it in brick and mortar stores).

Tagging files with file libraries

Tags for every situation

  1. Tagging for productivity
  2. File library vs. file system
  3. File system tagging
  4. Tagging files with file libraries

I know it’s hardly standard practice to publish things on major holidays, but I wanted to give my U.S. readers something to do while they’re recovering from eating too much turkey, and I can hardly think of a better distraction than an article that I’ve been meaning to write for months, continuing my series of tagging software recommendations. This time the topic is file libraries, and unlike file system tagging solutions, there’s a lot of good options out there.

To recap, a file library is an application that collects, searches, and browses your files outside of the standard Finder and Spotlight interface. File libraries contain some of the best examples of tagging interfaces currently available on the Mac, and thanks to the limitations Spotlight has with regards to tagging often provide streamlined and useful tagging for a variety of file types. [read more...]

Easy choices

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. [read more...]

File system tagging

The fact is that people usually want to tag their files, but unfortunately file system tagging is still one of the most difficult and onerous tagging activities. Although there are a number of different tools now to choose from, if you want to use tags in your file system you will likely need to roll your own solution to some extent.

There are two main categories of file system tagging software: software intended to help you tag your files, and software that you can use to roll your own solution. Keep in mind that the focus of this series of articles is on helping you find software; coming up with a workflow will still be up to you (although I’ll be publishing some workflow advice down the road). [read more...]

The what

Creating a consistent tagging system is like baking a perfect pie crust: it makes you salivate to think about, but some days it just doesn’t work out. Fortunately, consistent tagging (unlike a perfect pie crust) isn’t affected by humidity; all you need is some careful attention to detail. And perhaps the most important detail to keep in mind while you are tagging is “the what”.

Quite simply, the what is just your answer to a two-part question: what item and what attributes? Despite the simplicity of the question, knowing the what is a vital part of creating a consistent tagging system. You can take or leave my SLS guidelines, but if you really want consistency you’re going to have to ask yourself about attributes. [read more...]

File library vs. file system

Tags for every situation

  1. Tagging for productivity
  2. File library vs. file system
  3. File system tagging
  4. Tagging files with file libraries

Although tagging for productivity can be fun, tagging any old file on their computer is one of the main things people want to be able to do (right up there with tagging photos). If you’re into tagging your files, then you’ve probably run across two different ways to do it: file system tagging and file libraries. I’ll get to specific software in the next article; for now, here’s the differences between the two.

Wether you use file system tagging or a file library depends mostly on personal preference. Both have their pros and cons, and both have a selection of different software available (although file system tagging still doesn’t have any standout fantastic options). [read more...]

More to life than tags

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: tags are an extremely flexible way to organize the mad rush of information that is your computer. As you no doubt have picked up (from the existence of this blog, if nothing else), I have a bit of a love affair with tags.

However, while tag-love is a special and beautiful thing, if you are going to create a really great tagging system one of the most important things you have to know is when not to tag. [read more...]

Tagging for productivity

I suppose I’ve put off talking about the actual tools you’ll use for tagging long enough. It’s time to do a run-down of the available tagging software with some advice from your’s truly on whether it’s worth using or not.

This series will focus on the different areas where you might be tagging: productivity (read: miscellaneous), file libraries and the file system, photos, bookmarks, and general writing. These articles will not contain specific workflow examples, however; I’m just pointing out the tools you can use. I’ll get to how best to actually use them later. [read more...]

The realms of tagging

Defining tagging

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

Tagging as a popular phenomenon was developed online, where many tagging systems feature tags created by the members of a site. Thanks to this phenomenon, a lot of the intellectual thought about tagging centers around “folksonomies” and other ideas of collaborative tagging.

However, there are actually three distinct realms of tagging, and each requires you think about tagging in a slightly different way: private, public, and collaborative. [read more...]