Why Tags? Because “people are very bad and inconsistent at organizing things”

Posted by bryanzug - 2006/04/28

Had a great discussion with a colleague today about advantages to tags and folksonomies for navigating corporate intranets.

I know it was a good conversation because her eyes did not glaze over as I went on like a tech fanboy about why we should try re-architecting some of our web projects around these concepts.

(Quick note — since I don’t think I’ve mentioned it on the blog yet — I am now working remotely for Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford — and yes I still live in Seattle — downtown Renton specifically — you know, the future home of the Sonics)

This was much better than my feeble previous attempts to advocate tags to other folks I’ve worked with on other projects.

(When someone’s eyes glaze over as I begin the third sentence of my explanation, it’s a pretty safe bet that I’ve made things too complicated.)

What happened between the two conversations?

I kept my eye out for concise descriptions that would help me craft a compelling “Why Tags?” nugget.

On that hunt, I came across this —

There were several severe problems with this folder-based approach. First, people are very bad and inconsistent at organizing things. One day etrade.com will go into the “finance” folder and another day it will go into the “favorite links” folder.

It’s a quote from Ari Paparo’s “Getting It Right” post that I learned about via Scott Berkun back in December.

Ari was writing about Yahoo’s acquisition of tag leading del.icio.us — the cool thing about Ari’s post is that he’s writing from the perspective of an entrepreneur who started and failed with a web based bookmarking company back in the day (circa 1999-2000).

The main difference he points out between the very similar companies is that of tags/folksonomies — del.icio.us had them and has succeeded where Blink.com did not have them and failed.

In his words —

Congratulations to Josh on the del.ico.us acquisition. Yahoo will make a great partner for the bookmarking service. Now a little part of me is cringing as I write this. Having founded a bookmarking company in 1999 with pretty much the exact same vision as the new crop of services, I’ve got to feel, well, a little stupid. (or angry, or depressed, or whatever). Maybe writing about it will make me feel better and maybe even help me make a point or two about product development.

As those of us in the eLearning space continue to flesh out our training ecosystems, we’re going to need to be able to concisely advocate things like tags that are going to help our users kick ass.

Mind Camp 2.0 Session: The Good Thing Rapid Discovery Slam

Posted by bryanzug - 2006/04/27

UPDATE: We’ve added a sign up the session’s wiki page. If you are an MC2’er, add your name. Don’t be shy — bring something interesting to you — odds are it’ll be interesting to the rest of us as well.

Will be at Mind Camp 2.0 this weekend facilitating a session with Scott Berkun. We are calling it the “The Good Thing Rapid Discovery Slam”. Here’s the details.

The Good Thing Rapid Discovery Slam Bring something short and interesting to read or show — something that has inspired you (or been caused as a result of you being inspired). Can be original or someone else’s work. Bring stuff from every genre — the blogosphere, novels, poetry, tech, business, software/product design, whatever. Watch and listen to things that are inspiring and provoking minds from your tribe. Each contributor will have 2 minutes at the helm. Bring various things to share in case there’s time to do multiple rounds. We will have a projector and audio hookups for multimedia. You need to bring the hardware for playing and any non-standard connectors. Count on standard monitor connectors and RCA for video in, as well as stereo 1/8 inch audio or RCA jacks for audio. We will also have an iPod AV cable with RCA video and audio connections.

I think we’re going to try and do it sometime on Saturday night after dinner – probably around the 8:00 time slot. Visit the session and discussion sections on the Mind Camp wiki .

This is an idea I brainstormed for Mind Camp 1.0 back in November 2005 but did not get around to doing because I did my other session on “Neo vs. Samwise in a fight? (And what does this have to do with the attention economy…”

As Mind Camp 2.0 (now sold out) geared up, folks (Stuart Maxwell in particular) raised the kernel of this idea again as a quintessential Mind Camp meme.

Scott and I had talked about similar ideas since Mind Camp 1.0 — possibly around the idea of gathering people to do this and a meal once every month or two — sort of like a geek dinner with wider scope.

If this goes well, let’s chat to see if people would be interested in doing this a couple of times between camps.

Trim eLearning Video Fat with Click.tv

Posted by bryanzug - 2006/04/17

In this age of the attention economy, trimming the non-essential from your eLearning is imperative if you want your content to engage (and not put your users to sleep via boredom and irrelevancy).

Don’t know if you follow web video trends much, but there are a lot of things happening that are going to make web video a much richer (and more easily integrated) tool for eLearning along these lines.

From TechCrunch this AM comes a short profile of soon to be launched Click.tv — which will allow you to set and link to specific points in a video without having to do the tedious job of chunking it up into many different video files.

Go look at the Click.tv demo to have a look.

Why is this important?

Good video is more memorable than just text or just audio (and in the age of the attention economy memory is everything). The problem with videos, however, is that relevant/compelling portions of them have always been too hard to extract for regular folks.

Click.tv-esque functionality makes it easy for eLearning content creators to link just to the chunks of a video that are relevant to a given lesson they are creating. This gives the creator the ability to tightly trim out irrelevant (and boring) parts of a video.

The ability to mashup interesting parts of content for a given audience/topic is always a good step toward ensuring that your stuff is not a snooze-a-thon.

‘Enthusiasm’—en theos—a god within

Posted by bryanzug - 2006/04/12

Here is a cool quote from Louis Pasteur found in the new book “Exuberance: The Passion for Life” by Kay Redfield Jamison

The Greeks bequeathed to us one of the most beautiful words in our language—the word ‘enthusiasm’—en theos—a god within. The grandeur of human actions is measured by the inspiration from which they spring. Happy is he who bears a god within, and who obeys it.

(found via Tom Peters — more quotes from the book are in this .pdf)

Mind Camp 2.0

Posted by bryanzug - 2006/04/07

Mind Camp 2.0 registration opened this AM. Event is Saturday April 29-30 in West Seattle. It’s going to run $25 a head this time to help cover costs.

Get in quick if you want to go — space went fast last time. Register at —


From the email announcement —

Seattle Mind Camp 2.0 Begins: Apr 29, 2006 at 11:00 am Ends: Apr 30, 2006 at 12:00 pm Location: Youngstown Cultural Arts Center; 4408 Delridge Way SW; Seattle, WA 98106 It’s that time again… Seattle Mind Camp is a self-organizing, digitally minded, entrepreneur-driven, overnight Seattle confab. What happens when you put 200 of Seattle’s smartest people in a creative environment for 24 hours? We’re not sure either, but we’d like to find out. It’s time to meet and connect with those involved in the interesting projects going on in Seattle.