Little Red Riding Tag

redridinghood.jpg from wikipediaAn interesting comment by Jess on the TNN blog has moved me to expand on something. She has been musing about transliteracy over on FrontLine at Lit [r]evolutions (I'm in awe of blogs with letters in parentheses). Previously to that she had composed a fascinating post about tag clouds on her blog. Now that the context has been laid out, here's the content.
Jess asked about the relationship between an author's tags and the tags of those who thingamajig the author's work. For example, the author tags their poem "thebestpoemintheworld" while a huge crowd of people come to read it and all tag it "theworstpoemintheworld". What I'm wondering about is the analogy with performance. Consider a storyteller telling the story of Little Red Riding Hood to an audience in an oral performance.The audience has certain expectations of the tale and if the teller does not meet them, the performance might 'fail'. There is a relationship between the audience and the teller, creativity and tradition and so on. Similarly, tagging could be seen as a dimension of the performance; the audience tags the narrative one way and the author another. If the author's tags don't match with the audience then the narrative will not be easy to find; a form of failure. Perhaps rather intriguingly, the more popular an author is, the more others tag the author's work, the less impact that the author's tags have. Perhaps, therefore, if big content providers move into tagging we'll see a move to insist that some taggers are more important than others for precisely that reason.
cybe pigeonThis strikes me as potentially very interesting for transliteracy because I suspect that tagging and its use in multiple websites may be generating a new form of "tag literacy" that could be being used as a form of "cyberpidgin".


5 thoughts on “Little Red Riding Tag

  1. Bruce, you say: “If the author’s tags don’t match with the audience then the narrative will not be easy to find; a form of failure.” I’m not quite sure. If the author and reader’s tags don’t match, it’s just another story, a different story. The narrative might well be easy to find but perhaps not in the way the author envisioned? Let’s take you image of Red Riding Hood. Maybe I would tag it with story, hungy wolf, silly grandmother, gibberish, fiction, invented” and maybe the author (of which version…) might tag like this: “narrative, truth, true, buldungsroman, histoire”….does this mean there’s been a failure? Also, would my tags faciliate the finding of Red Riding Hood for certain people/searches? Maybe there’s a difference in tagging if your on the “consuming” side (reader?) or the “producing” side (writer?). As for the tags like “best story” and “worst story”, who would you trust: reader or writer? I think this plays into our idea of transliteracy – we still need to be critically literate.

  2. Fair comment. Interestingly, your anatomy of a tag cloud blog is all about what you can tell about a person from their tag cloud. You could say the same about an entity that is tagged. The “author” would be just one person who has tagged the item and the item’s cultural depiction will come from the tag cloud. I do envisage future “tag wars” and attempts at “tag bombing”. You may see “tag bots” that are roam the net trying to mould the “tag scape” to a form that their controllers wish.

  3. Oh yes. I still do think that tag clouds give an *idea* about the person or site, for sure…but, if we’re talking specifically about differences between user/producer generated tags, I want to be sure that we don’t classify either as a *failure* – just a different kind of sense of the work/site evolves, I suppose. I think there will be tag wars…probably going on right now (not that I’ve ever participated in it…really). But, if there is someone out there writing something someone might not particularly like…I’m sure the tags will begin to reflect that. Plus, then you can have tagging terrorism or tagging guerillas who “bad tag” the competition….that will probably lead to tag spam….great things to look forward to.

  4. Tagging people is…

    A little while ago, Jess posted an entry about the potential for people tagging. It sparked a fun, if not entirely serious, discussion over on the transliteracy blog. Now, however, we have “traitcloud” – a tag cloud widget for people….

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