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Tagging blogs – a Reboot of sorts

It’s May 1st and that means CSS Reboot day wherein folks around the world redesign their websites. I’m not one of them, however I have been playing around with a new version of this blog, which I am calling Clagnut 2.0 beta. Beta because it is utterly unfinished, by which I mean the functionality is nowhere near all there and the design, such as it is, will most likely change beyond recognition.

The interesting bit, for me at least, refers to the 2.0 part of the label as I have started playing around with APIs and tagging. This has led me to think more about my approach to tagging. In a recent blog post, Thomas Vander Wal, who coined the term folksonomy explained that:

Tagging [lets] users describe the world in their own terms as taxonomies become “folksonomies.” Putting information in each person’s vocabulary is important. We lose so much information and having the means to pull it all back in and refind it is an incredible tool to have with in our reach.

I’m finding that the information I’m losing is spread across different websites, but consistent and detailed tagging can be the magnet to collect this data back together. Now when I tag a photo in Flickr I try to think about other contexts for that information. For instance I would ask myself: to which blog posts would this photo be relevant? and tag accordingly.

A good example of what I’m talking about is a post I made last year about a trip to the West Country. In Clagnut 2.0 beta, I am plugging the post’s tags into the Flickr API and displaying the matching photos. By ensuring I have included pertinent tags such as Cornwall and Devon, the returned photos are all from this trip.

I also geotagged the post. The geotagged tags tells the blog engine to display a Google map and the geo:lon and geo:lat tags provide the location coordinates. The structure of the tags is exactly the same as the geotagging you might see on Flickr.

Finally I created a third format of tag. In the post I wrote about the book Penguin by Design so I have isbntagged the post. Using a compound format similar geotagging, the isbntagged tag tells the blogging engine to hook into Amazon’s API and the isbn=0713998393 tag says which book is being referenced.

Obviously lots of different and specially formatted tags like this would make a tag cloud look fairly ridiculous, but I’ve never found tag clouds particularly useful anyway. This is all about personal tagging; about recombining dispersed but related information into one view. And I want to do more of it.

What other sources of information are there that I could pull in by this manner? Where else might my stuff be (I have links on delicious for example)? Is it actually useful to supplement a blog post with third party information?