Automatically Tagging Your Content

No I’m not talking about some new autotagging feature that scans your content and automatically assigns tags to it. I’m talking about modifying existing blogging software so that it assumes the tags you want to assign to the post based upon where you are located within your site. For example, right now in Squarespace, I can click on a category view (i.e. blog, book, contact, etc) to filter my view by that specific category. At the top of that view though, I still have a button to "create a new journal entry". Well imagine if in pressing that button, the post that I created automatically got assigned the same category tag of my current view. So if I was looking at my book entries and I created a new journal entry, that entry would be tagged "book" because the system assumed I wanted this tag because I was viewing my journal filtered by books. In effect, the association is automatically created based upon the view or location of where you are on your site.

Here’s another example for those who have created Flickr Photo Set’s in the past. Imagine if you could select the default tags for a specific Photo Set that you created. Also imagine if you could select a Set when adding pictures to Flickr. So if I had all my cat pictures in one Flickr Set entitled My Cats and I selected that set when adding more cat pictures to Flickr then the system would automatically tag those photos with my default tag settings for me without needing me to enter those tags. So not only would those photos be added to my primary photo stream but they would also be added to my Photo Set entitled My Cats.

Now some people may say, what’s the big deal?! It is only a few tags to add. What’s wrong with the way we do it now in selecting them? Well here’s my point, I’m not looking at just a few tags but many tags as well as other journal properties. And once you have to start dealing with that many journal post properties, you’ll definitely want an easy way to automatically tag your content instead of having to tediously enter these properties or tags every single time. I’ll give some more examples of how to do this automatic application of many tags and properities to your content using, strangely enough, some new dynamic views I’ve thought up. More later.

The Absurdity of Tagging

I just imagined what my life would be like if I constantly thought as much about content structure offline as I do online. I’d be walking around in my house and on every single object in my house would be a big sticker indicating the properties of that item. So if I had a painting, a big sheet of paper would be stuck over the painting and on it would be the following.

Artist: Yadda Yadda
Date Created: 21 Sept 1993
Materials: Oil Based Paints
Colors Used: Yellow Green
And so on…

Then even more so, between all of the pictures of art in my house I would tie strings connecting each piece of art to each other, so that I would know that they are associated with each other.

Do you see the absurdity of what I’m talking about here? We are so focused on tagging the content that we lose focus of the content itself by almost covering it up when we categorize it. It is like writing a small post but then adding tags to categorize the post and your tag count exceeds the number of words in your post. It’s ludicrous.

When we buy a book in a store that we are going to read later, do you adhere labels to that book such as "book" to know it is a book or "bookshelf" to know to put it on the your bookshelf at home. No, you just do it. The action itself of putting that book on the shelf defines that it is tagged "bookshelf" and grouped with other books there.

Therefore, when we are working with our content online we need ways in which we can just as easily tag our content automatically based upon our actions and where we place this content. In doing so, it will allow us to remove the tagging interface so that only the content remains standing simply and uncluttered like a beautiful piece of art.

Uber Journal Archive

This is a mind dump. Therefore most of this probably won’t make sense.

Types (Text, Photo, Music, Movie, Bookmark, etc)
Properties (Source, Author, Date, etc)
Time Frame (Day, Week, Month, Year, Decade)

Property -> Date: Start Date: Jan 1, 2004 / End Date: Year (shows full year) (can even group by month)

Select post type when adding it. Journal, Book, Photo, Music, Movie, Bookmark, etc.

Select Journal Archive view with "Grouped by Type" enabled so that posts are shown grouped by typed. AS WELL as a side box that allows you select the view order (i.e. use up/down arrows to arrange order or select alphabetically, date?, etc)

Select types from drop down list (like you select categories) to filter Journal Archive view by those types only.

Select start and end time frames (with Ongoing Present and Full Past available) so that you can filter your Journal Archive view by a specific time frame.

Select a single or multiple categories (from drop down list) to filter Journal Archive view by specific categories.

Select filter by bookmarks and "Grouped by Source" or by specific Source (i.e. Boing Boing) with time frame set to the last week to find all bookmarks that were found off of Boing Boing.

Select time frame or number of posts to filter by but with option to have view more button on side (i.e. More >>).

EXAMPLE: Travels in Asia 2005

Select Journal Archive and enable filters for specific 2005 timeframe,  categories of "asia, vacation", types set to all, group by types which would give you a nowblog / lense that focuses on exciting things to do in Asia in 2005.

PER POST PRIVACY SETTINGS (even to point of Follow-up being private and post being public)

CREATE A NEW JOURNAL ENTRY: Available on Journal Archive, if clicked, defaults to same categories filter settings

Threaded Thought Streams

It’s weird. I was thinking last night if there was a way I could organize content without utilizing tags at all and it dawned on me that using a threaded approach would be one such way. Therefore if I looked at my blog journal, I would not only see my entire journal stream of content but also any threads on a particular stream of thought. Even more so I could filter those visible threads by a time frame so that I only see the more current ones, since older threads may not interest me anymore.

Even more so I wondered how could you show these thought streams, especially from the viewpoint of them intersecting and crisscrossing one another. Then it dawned on me that Flickr actually does this very well already. Your Flickr Sets and Groups are streams of photos that have been organized by topic. And best of all, you can actually see a small portion of each of these streams, as they crisscross each other, on the right sidebar area of Flickr. If this was duplicated in a journal blog, imagine being on a journal post and seeing the streams that these post belongs to on the side bar with the "previous" and "next" thoughts in the stream being showed for each stream. This is similar to what you see when you are browsing through a journal blog up near the top where it shows the previous and next posts relating to the post you are viewing, as well as a "Main" link, but you’d also add the previous and next posts for each thought stream (or topic) that this post relates to as well. Of course even if you could organize these thoughts streams by threading them, it would still be a good idea to create a title for the thought stream itself.

Something interesting to note though with this approach (that is similar to Flickr) is that all of your content does not need to be organized into these different streams but they can be just left in the global stream of thoughts if you want. Only if you notice a pattern in certain thoughts would you "grab" them and place them within their own thought stream (similar to how you can organize photos in Flickr in sets or groups). From a blog viewpoint, it would be not worrying about classifying and grouping every single minute thing but only the things that you notice having relationships or form patterns with one other.

Moving From Many To Meaningful

Last night, just before I went to bed, something dawned on me. If I want to find and maintain truly meaningful relationships with people, I have to unfortunately be very selective. Why? Because when you start creating too many relationships, there is just no way you can maintain a meaningful aspect to each one of those relationships because you are just spread way too thin and can’t commit as much time to each one of those relationships as you’d like. Therefore, my upcoming goal is to spend less time running around the Web (as well as reading feeds) and trying to spend more time connecting with those who I truly want to maintain these meaningful relationships with.