OTHER PLACES OF INTEREST
Danny Flamberg's Blog
Danny has been marketing for a while, and his articles and work reflect great understanding of data driven marketing.
Eric Peterson the Demystifier
Eric gets metrics, analytics, interactive, and the real world. His advice is worth taking...
Geeking with Greg
Greg Linden created Amazon's recommendation system, so imagine what can write about...
Ned Batchelder's Blog
Ned just finds and writes interesting things. I don't know how he does it.
R at LoyaltyMatrix
Jim Porzak tells of his real-life use of R for marketing analysis.
HOW DID YOU GET HERE?
Update: Lots of traffic to this link from some very nice blogs and del.ico.us users… so, note that it rests in context with my complete series (so far) on why I dislike tagging, including:
Now, back to your regularly scheduled reading…
I originally wrote about how much I hate tagging a few weeks ago, in the article I Hate Tags. But I keep reading all these articles about “tagging”, the most recent being Stephen Levy’s article in Newsweek, and I still find it to be insane that all these smart people can’t see the obvious. Tagging is not designed to share, its designed to create walled gardens, defined originally in the wiki world. Here is one person’s summary from that page:
...a WalledGarden (at least as the originator originally imagined it) is a large set of pages that are suitable for a wiki, but bring in their own organizational or conceptual baggage, and hence integrate poorly with the rest of that wiki. The content is appropriate, but the form prevents integration.
This means that if you bring your own organizational structure to something, it won’t fit with the rest, walling it away.
Look, if I am looking for something specific, then I type those terms in. Say I use a search engine. If I am looking for a phrase, I use quotes and type in all the words (up to 10 for most engines) and I get hits with that phrase.
But usually, I want stuff “like” or “similar” to my words. Search engines know variations on words to try to give my search more breadth. Or, I don’t know what terms are appopriate, so I look for other terms in the content, read those findings, and learn the proper vocabulary as used by experts in that field.
But that’s now how tagging systems work. Instead, you have to know the terms up front to find anything. Using tagging systems to find stuff means typing in every possible variation of the terms you can think of. This is fun for browsing, but silly for research or answering questions. Note that every popular “tagging” system, to date, has been for consumer fun stuff (flickr, etc.) and not for real knowledge management.
Let’s try it together. http://del.icio.us/ is currently the hot social bookmarking site, so let’s find things on analyzing categorical data. I am sure someone out there is working on this, so let’s find it. The basic trick is that you type the term as part of the URL like this: http://del.icio.us/tag/software more docs here.
So, let’s try http://del.icio.us/tag/analyzing+categorical+data... and see that it returns nothing. For comparison, Google returns 179k for the same phrase. Ok, now I have to guess at terms that might make more sense. How about chi-square? Or logistic regression? Of course, I am an expert and know these phrases; too bad for the average person who is screwed at this point.
http://del.icio.us/tag/logistic+regression returns 3 links.
Look at the tags they are coded under:
“Bayesian Logistic Regression Software”
“generative discriminative naive bayes logistic regression statistics machine learning tom”
“logistic regression statistics”
So, basically, I have to know some pretty techie (stats techie) to get my answer. I have to use terms that are known only to experts. This is insane.
How does this “organization” help an outsider research? It doesn’t. You have to stumble onto a phrase that returns some relevant hits, and then try to understand why a link has these other terms to decide if they help or hinder your search. The examples in the Levy article only epitomize this. He speaks of the tag “GTD” as short for relevant to a book, “Getting Things Done”. Ok, but if I don’t know that, it’s a useless tag for sharing. Oh, it shares with those who already know, but shouldn’t social activities online be about more than setting up cliques and private languages like we did in 8th grade? (US schools go from Kindergarten to 12th grade, so 8th grade means 14 year olds.).
Hell, I know all the terms I would use to categorize my links: They are very esoteric and detailed, and I use them all over my private bookmarks (ala Blinkpro and my new favorite, Link-a-go-go). But as DMOZ has shown over and over again, if you are trying to organize knowledge for others instead of just yourself, you have to think a little more open. Tagging is insular, not expansive.
So, I know this will evolve into something useful. We don’t have to stick with the Dewey or any other tree-based taxonomy if we don’t want to. My suggestion? Recommmend “Standard Terms” and “Free Terms” as 2 separate fields. Let’s try to do our best to share some phrases which are key to the concept of an article or link or page or functionality or whatever, and use that in the Standard. It can be a big list, and it will change, but the community would choose, and it would override (yes, change) the old terms where necessary. But “Free Terms” stay as whatever the user typed in there, as wacky and wild and useful and useless as they want to be.
I think we will find that using “Standard Terms” and then “Free Terms” together will allow folks to find useful things and expand their knowledge at the same time, instead of being forced to either find stuff they already know about, or ask to be let into the club.
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