Pet peeve on the 4th of July weekend. What exactly is this?
For those of you who think it’s performance art, I think you might be right, but let’s get you some facts first. Tags are all the rage right now and it’s a good thing. Google is a fine way to data mine, but it’s slow and and it doesn’t know who I am. Wow, I can’t believe I just said Google is slow.
It is slow. Go look at the popular page on del.icio.us right now. It’s a near real-time list of pages people have added to their del.icio.us bookmarks and it’s ranked by the number of times the page has been added. Show me the equivalent on Google and remember that del.icio.us has a decidedly nerd demographic… and I’m a nerd.
Unlike Google, anyone can add any tag to anything. Go chaos. Thing is, trends emerge after time. Common tags grow in popularity and we again demonstrate that while human beings really want to be unique, we just aren’t.
This brings us back to the photo above — a tag cloud from Flickr. It’s the list of all time most popular tags on Flickr and I know what you’re wondering “Where’s the sex tag?” Yeah, they probably edited that out..
My question remains. What is the purpose of a tag cloud? It’s more interesting than a bulleted list, but as user interface goes it’s a aflutter with clutter. If you tell me this is intended to a casual interface for browsing tags, I’ll buy it, but if it’s intended to more useful than a stumblable interface, I’d like to hear your theories…