In 1996, Paulina Borsook wrote a story that, frankly, really pissed me off. In "Cyberselfish," published in Mother Jones and eventually turned into a book, she wrote about how new have-it-your-way technology was creating a generation of spoiled brats with computers.
I took umbrage. Not only was I a proud member of the generation she was lambasting (a generation that is now oldschool on the internet, for whatever that's worth), but I had personally observed just the opposite. I witnessed people using new digital tools to collaborate. I saw more selflessness and altruism online than off. From the Open Source movement of the nineties to the mashup culture of today, I see a web that plays well with others. If the medium really is the message, I think the internet's core message can be summed up in one word: Share.
Nowadays, people get that a lot more than they used to, and there are a host of new companies built to enable this sharing. But I fear that, in our rush to embrace the contributory culture of the internet, this new crop of startups is forgetting one thing: Paulina Borsook wasn't wrong.
Now that I've been working at Technorati long enough for the Kool-Aid to kick in, I decided to trick out my blog a bit with some nifty Technoratiness. Here are the highlights:
1. Search! Google may have this site indexed back to 1997, but it can take weeks for new entries to show up there. If you're looking for something I said in a blog post, Technorati's got my posts indexed within minutes. So I added the Technorati Searchlet to all the index pages.
2. Technorati This! Each post now ends with a "Technorati This" link. Click it to see if there are any other blogs out there talking about (and linking to) the post you're on. It happens!
3. Technorati Tags! This is the one I'm really excited about. I rejiggered the way I use Categories in Movable Type to be more tag-like. Now, after each post, you'll see a list of the tags I applied to that post. Click the quote bubble icon to go to the Technorati Tag page for that word, or click the text to see all my posts tagged with that word. It's the best of both worlds: you can choose whether you want to hear more from me about it, or more from everyone about it.
More tricking out to come.
Or: Why you're gonna be hearing the word "tag" a lot
Think about these two words for a moment: "Search" and "Browse." They're words that are used frequently to describe things we do on computers. But consider their traditional associations:
Browsing is shopping, strolling, flipping through a magazine. Browsing is fun, casual, entertaining.
Searching is mechanical, trial and error, frustrating. Searching is work.
There's a powerful emotional difference between the two. Now let's talk about tags.
Lots of smart people have been buzzing about tags lately, and for good reason. Tags are like categories or subjects - a general description of a thing. So, for example, I might tag this photo of my dog with the words: Dog, Chihuahua, and Bug.
Once I've tagged my photos, they can be easily collected on a page - I can see all my photos tagged Chihuahua, thanks to Flickr. Take that to the next level and I can see everyone's Chihuahua photos. Neat! Take that aggregation one step further and you can see everything tagged with Chihuahua anywhere. Even neater.
This section is called Just a Thought. It's a blog where I post little pieces of what I'm thinking about at the moment. This page shows thoughts about Tags, including:
Design for Selfishness
11 April 2006
4 February 2005
Searching vs. Browsing
19 January 2005
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Working the web since 1995, Derek Powazek is the creator of many award-winning websites, a couple of which still exist. Derek is the cofounder of JPG Magazine and the CCO of 8020 Publishing. Derek lives in San Francisco with his wife, two nutty Chihuahuas, a grumpy cat, and a house full of plants named Fred. More »
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Design for Selfishness 11 April 2006
Technoratized 4 February 2005
Searching vs. Browsing 19 January 2005