Proceedings of the ASIST Annual Meeting

Tagging as a communication device: Every tag cloud has a silver lining

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The panel will bring together an intentional variety of perspectives on the process and outcomes of tagging, within and without social networking. In particular, how the context is apparent in the vocabulary, language or classifications used in communication. At the individual or conceptual level, tags are seen as a means to avoid some of the issues associated within more formal frameworks, such as fossilized terms of meanings, but at the context, language or ontology level a concept must be expressed via a relatively impoverished vocabulary of jointly shared terms and ideas. One such misunderstanding, one that drives much of the debate on tagging, is the widespread definition of ontology as "a hierarchical structure to describe conceptual structures that are closed, inflexible and restrictive". However, a lexicon of tags - terms - can be tailored to improve and optimize communication accuracy. The panel will attempt to show how tagging is applied to indicate or derive an appropriate semantics, given the user's understanding of the information's context. Then discussing how this process fits with established theory in knowledge management, KM, linguistics and classification research amongst others, and investigate wider implications.