Nov 072007

Like any hyped tech­no­logy, Web 2.0 has a lot of buzzwords. They include the tag (as in tag cloud), the folk­sonomy, the long tail (more about that in a later post), and social soft­ware.

Social soft­ware is there to sup­port net­work­ing and social activ­it­ies via the inter­net. Lots of people spend lots of time inter­act­ing with friends online, wheth­er they’ve ever met them in per­son or not. For people who are embed­ded in that world, it’s a nat­ur­al way to inter­act. For every­one else, it can be slightly creepy to think that com­plete strangers read everything you write and know a lot about you. Lots of real-life friend­ships have blos­somed from online activ­it­ies, and more than a few prob­lems have occurred as well. The social aspect, that is people inter­act­ing with oth­er people, is prob­ably the most import­ant aspect of Web 2.0 sites.

The idea behind tags is to label things, so they’re loosely related to cat­egor­ies or (even more loosely) onto­lo­gies. Tags typ­ic­ally aren’t applied by spe­cial­ists; in keep­ing with the Web 2.0 philo­sophy they are applied by the per­son writ­ing the blog post, or upload­ing the pho­to, or stor­ing the book­mark. So you get near-duplications, mis­spellings, incor­rect usages, double mean­ings etc., but at least you do have some sort of cat­egor­isa­tion applied to these bits of con­tent. And many people go to quite a lot of effort to see what sorts of tags oth­er people use, and then pick the same ones where pos­sible. This then ends up being a folk­sonomy.

Web 2.0 Tag CloudThis image shows a tag cloud, which is a col­lec­tion of tags where the tags in big fonts are the more import­ant ones (usu­ally means they show up more often). Unlike say top­ic maps or RDF, the spa­tial dis­tri­bu­tion of the tags doesn’t usu­ally mean any­thing, although in the­ory you could use it to show rela­tion­ships between the tags. Since gen­er­ally there is no form­al rela­tion­ship between them (oth­er than that from nat­ur­al lan­guage) this would be tricky to auto­mate and most people just fiddle with the cloud to make it look nice. 

The oth­er buzzwords on the slide are the import­ant ones from a couple of years ago, these days there would be a few more. There’s also a ver­sion of the slide with the words linked to the rel­ev­ant Wiki­pe­dia art­icles.

One of a series on Web 2.0, taken from my talk at the CSW Sum­mer School in July 2007. Here’s the series intro­duc­tion. Com­ing up next: social and col­lab­or­a­tion aspects of Web 2.0

  One Response to “Web 2.0: Buzzwords”

  1. RSS is the web 2.0 word which adoped so fast by inter­net.

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