Saturday, November 19, 2005

Is Tagging Relevant?

rel8r is an experimental project I launched on Nov. 17, 2005 at . I made it for several reasons, but one such reason was to see if tagging is actually relevant. I didn't know the answer, but I set to find out and the result is rel8r.

The most interesting thing as it turns out is that searching on tags lets you find things that you wouldn't have thought to look for. It's more of a discovery than a search. I think this is where the difference between regular search engines and searching on tags lies. With Google and other search engines you are looking for very specific things and the better the engine, the more chance you have of finding what you want. With rel8r, it's more something like "what will I find if I search for X", where X can be anything (assuming people have tagged something with X).

Lets try an example so you can see what I mean. First, lets try "golden gate bridge", on rel8r and Google. The first thing you'll probably notice is the pictures that people have tagged showing up on rel8r since those catch the eye first. It's a nice augmentation to normal search results, but when you get to reading the text entries, you'll find seemingly random things that are actually related to the Golden Gate Bridge; upcoming parties and events, things that people have bookmarked, some people offering boat trips in the San Francisco Bay, among other things. Now the Google results are more specific, the first result is, the next couple are more government sites that have to do with the bridge, and then some results are sites with information and tourism types of things. The Google search is obviously very relevant if you are trying to learn more about the bridge. The rel8r search is more about what's new with the bridge, what people are saying, and what people are seeing.

Now lets try a product search, how about the Xbox 360 since there is so much hype about it right now and I'll use Yahoo as the search engine this time to be fair (I really like what I'm seeing on Yahoo search these days btw, just as good as Google I dare say). My rel8r search showed many things including some pictures of the xbox like the one to the right, and someones first review of playing the xbox at the local Best Buy. The Yahoo search had a link to the xbox official site, some reviews, cheats, and places to buy it. The Yahoo results are probably what you actually want to see in general.

So far, after a few days of having it up, I find that I keep going back to try out different tags that might bring up interesting results. And because of this, rel8r is a discovery tool, rather than a search. That may sound counter intuitive, but try it to see what I mean. It's got a much more personal feel. Search for the city where you live, search for your name, search for a product you are interested in. And after you do, I'd love to hear your comments and feedback, good or bad.

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