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    blogrolls, tags, and meta-data

    Spent a good amount of time last night tweaking the sidebar of this blog, culling blogs that have disappeared or that no longer update, and trying (less successfully) to develop a taxonomical scheme under which the sidebar could be organized.

    The failure of this attempt helps to cement my appreciation of more flexible "tag"-based systems—in which one item can be tagged with multiple keywords—over more inflexible hierarchy-based taxonomies (like what we've got over in the sidebar right now).

    A more pithy way of phrasing this problem: "folders suck." (That's how Ari Paparo puts it in his frank, insightful post on why bookmark-sharing utility Blink.com (circa 1999) failed, while later bookmark-sharing utility del.icio.us appears to be succeeding.)

    Ari: "[P]eople are very bad and inconsistent at organizing things. One day etrade.com will go into the 'finance' folder and another day it will go into the 'favorite links' folder."

    Well, exactly. And blogs, with their often eclectic focus, are even more damnably stubborn about slotting neatly into a single category. Derik Badman's great Mad Ink Beard is mostly about comics (as it makes obvious through the tag cloud on its front page) but my interest in it is at least as much because it's about literary constraints and their effect on narrative: shouldn't it go under a "constraints" category or a "narrative" category? Wait a second, aren't all comics basically narrative? Couldn't they all go into a "narrative" category? Sounds fine, until you consider a blog like Comics Should Be Good, which seems to have only a nominal interest in comics as narrative per se, and more of an interest in, well, which comics are good. And then there's something like the great blog Pruned, which claims to be about landscaping, but in reality is about so much more.

    I find that what I most want is a little applet that would allow me to assign multiple tags to blog-links (like del.icio.us) but would also store various meta-data about the links (when it was added, when it was last clicked, how many times it's been clicked in total) and allow me to reconfigure them instantly using any of these meta-variables as the organizing axis (like what iTunes does with songs). And then ideally the whole thing would publish to HTML and could sit there in the sidebar (and maybe be re-configurable by readers of this blog). Does anybody know of anything that even approaches this?



    Thursday, April 13, 2006
    9:05 AM


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