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Tagging the Path for Communication

It's been a new experience. I've spent an afternoon at a twittering distance of the attendees at EduBloggerCon07, an unconference in Atlanta today. They are wrapping up the event as I write this post.

I have been "in touch" using a set of tools based on RSS and tags which I have learnt to use in the last year.
Wikispaces attendees list

Blog Posts

Actually the Conference Twitter spot was not that active as I had expected. It was Steve Dembo (see the happy twitterer face in the pic -pretty telling) who live blogged the event. Also Vicky, Chris and Jeff. At least from my Twitter contacts.

And from their tweets, I got the posts people in my RSS are making about the event with notes that help you to trace some of the landmarks of the conference.
Note to self: FOE-Things we need to definitely learn: Teach your students to be communicatively concise. Big plus today to know how to handle 140 characters.

Vicky Davis has summed up some conclusions on the event in this post (please read, my numbers refer to her notes).
Some thoughts -
1. Database, yes. Now, those curricular needs would just be according to the system of one country? Could that be more generic and then let the network be more specific?

2.The tagging standards seem to point a country-specific database. It can be a good example for others to follow or improve.

Tagging- This is where I get stuck. I completely agree standards can help to access fast. My suggestion is to study first how beginners tend to tag. One of the advantages of tagging is its unique simplicity. Whatever tag we choose should not be too elaborate. At least if we aim at making beginners speed up in all this.

Here is an example of what I mean by generic tags, broad tags, which could create specific categories simply by adding them. It is a tagging plan for a literature resources wiki.

I have decided to use a non capitalization policy for tags there. However, I find that some people prefer capitalization when
tagging their own names in del.icio.us, so when it comes to names, I still wonder what is best.

As regards the use of hyphens, I will use hyphens for words that carry one on print too (e.g. Post-colonialism). To avoid ambiguity, I think I'll use perhaps an underscore to join closely related labels if necessary. The idea is that the labels are clickable and point to related pages quickly, so I'd rather use single word labels. If I join tags with hyphens, I will be singling the page out far too much to join it to others.

In a nutshell, I think tags should be mashable. Not that I know exactly how to do that with a tool. But I'm sure someone in our network will know!

What can be unique to spot content is not the tag, but the combination of tags. Would that be better accomplished by joining with dots, underscores or the + sign del.icio.us uses?

3. Volunteer group to tag resources in del.icio.us. Choosing tags which have a seamless integration to those already in use by educators will be instrumental in obtaining a rich database. Tagging is a comfortable, easy action. It need not be "taught" or arbitrarily chosen for you. That sounds more like taxonomy than folksonomy to me.

I have collected a database of educators in del.icio.us by adding them to my network.

It has been my dream -a wild one indeed- to be able to navigate that network fast. I would like to ask a tool to retrieve information such as:
-Who is saving more items tagged ...?
-Who has been recently saving items on a specific topic?
Clicking on each of them is tough.

4. Simplicity and video tutorials. Who could doubt the power of these two put together?
I would add something else:Strands. I think that's where the efforts of volunteers should be best directed to.

The beginner blogging teachers I have generated here, after a presentation on blogs, have both - at different exploration stages- felt the need of a "blogging course". One of them wanted it at the early stage before getting RSS-ed. The other one has tried to do it to find order in her online journeys. Result: Disappointment. They were looking for tailor made things and what you need is tools to tailor make it yourself.

That is why I think the essence of whatever we create for them has to be more like the ingredients in the kitchen than the menu at the restaurant. The menu can have puzzling terms. A PLE is to be made individually and the needs of the elements to include or how many tools to use in it will vary far too much to plan.

But I digress from Vicky's original point. Just thinking out loud.

(just sharing my little serendipitous research)
My PBwiki page on Del.icio.us
This includes video tutorials and slideshare ppt.

Practical aspects of tagging
Tagging Help for Teachers

A Bit of Reflection
A Cognitive Analysis of Tagging
A Social Analysis of Tagging
Thirteen Tips for Effective Tagging
Tags: Database Schemas
Folksonomies- Tidying up Tags?
Tag Literacy

Tag Searching Tools
Del.icio.us Tag Search
(If only we could limit this to as many users as we need).
Tag Search in Social Bookmarking Services
Flickr Related Tag Browser
Tag Browser
This is a tool to download. Need to explore yet.

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It really helps to have people reflecting and discussing things as they are added -- of course, you got my raw notes and they were just that - raw- however you can get a flavor of who was there and what was said.

It was helpful indeed to have access to your raw notes!

I have been thinking about tagging and discussing it with teachers by mail only. It was about time I published where my learning is now. If this is my PLE, let's make others come in and comment.

I discovered yesterday that reading notes from experienced bloggers brainstorms me much better. I know that once you publish your clean notes, you'll probably take me further and I may discard part of my own trails. I haven't been here online that long or there at the conference... Missing links are to be expected in my thoughts.

Blogging is about sharing the process. It takes intellectual confidence to publish something "in the making" as you all did.

Hope to read posts about "note-blogging" in the future. I learnt so much yesterday.

Thank you all who live-blogged your notes.

(Sorry this is so late, I'm catching up after my summer hiatus). You say, "Tagging- This is where I get stuck. I completely agree standards can help..."
I think the problems around tagging needs to be done at a 'higher' level. The sheer number of end-users and the constant emergence of new users will always create a challenge- standards will help, but more can be done. In a post (linked to my name) I suggest that tags should grow up. We need Super Tags... "wouldn't it be great if a conference organizer were able to create a Super Tag that would allow a search of any number of tags to also include the many possible variances? Depending on the site, some of these could be end-user controlled, participant controlled, contributor controlled or organizer controlled, but regardless of who gets to create these Super Tags, they are long overdue!"
So, EduBloggerCon07 and EduBloggerCon-07 and EduBloggerConference07 etc. would all have a common search result.
The challenge: This needs to be done on the back end. I think the technology is there to make this happen... But who can do it?

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