Tag Archives: tagging

altocumulus folksonomies information-retrieval microformats navigation plugin social-bookmarking social news social software tag clouds trust user-task-analysis visualizing music web standards WordPress

Twitter user directories – Wefollow vs. Justtweetit vs. Twellow

I happened to notice Brian’s tweet that he is officially the sole authority on burritos in Twitter, at least according to Wefollow, a Twitter user directory.

Twitter is the only major service I can think of where sites have popped up to provide a function so basic as user directories. This is due in part to their great API, but also because they don’t provide any real functionality on their site. You can search for users individually and import your contacts, but the suggested user page seems uselessly weighted toward the most popular people on the entire site.

Who should I follow if I’m interested in usability or cartography or legume horticulture? I took a look at a few directories, which follow slightly different models:

– Has a list of predefined categories
– Each user can only be in one category
– Users are self submitted

– Users can be tagged by any word or phrase, though the most popular show up as main categories on the home page
– Each user can use up to three tags
– Users are self submitted

– Has predefined categories, a large list that looks similar to Open Directory.
– Each user can be in up to 10 categories
– Seems to pick up users automatically, but users can add themselves to additional categories

My guess is the more specific the categories, the more useful the organization system will be. Wefollow gets points here for allowing open tagging but the front page, with such broad categories, isn’t as useful as the search or drill down pages. Twellow actually works pretty well, since the built-in category list is so extensive.

All three seem like they might be a bit open to abuse, since users can add themselves to the directory – with Twellow and Wefollow, at least they have to be logged in to their account to do so. But if I were a spammer and had found some way to use Twitter for spam, I could quickly add my spam accounts to these sites as well.

It would be really interesting to see a measure of quality other than just the number of followers. For example, if I say I’m in the haberdashery business, the system could check to see how often haberdashery shows up in my tweets – that could be a quality score for the classification, used in concert with number of followers, which is a proxy measure for the quality of my account.

Has anyone else used these directories, or others? Would you follow someone just because they’re the most popular person listed in your area of interest? Let me know in the comments below.

Map Apps of the Day: Islands of Music and the Continental Zodiac

Two interesting uses of maps today, one is a completely non-geographical map that illustrtaes data while the other is a completely artistic use of geography.

Islands of Music

Last.fm is  a great service – I’ve written about it before.  The best thing about it is the copious and collection of interesting data on music tastes (you can even see how geeky your taste in music is).

Like many other web sites Last.fm has a tagging system, and so it interesting to see how different tags relate to each other – are hip-hop fans more likely to listen to ambient or heavy metal?  One very cool way to do this is with a map.

islands of music from last.fm

See the orginal version here, complete with mouseover descriptions of the different islands.  Visualizing music tatses as a map makes some interesting findings pop out – the long continent of folk, psychadelic, and metal in the northeast, for example.  Deathcore and emo are on the same continent, just on opposite sides of what I call You-Don’t-Understand-Me-Dad Bay.

This is an alternative to more conventional tag cloud or word cloud representations, though I’m not sure which presents information more clearly.

Another thing that strikes me is the similarity to video game maps – perhaps because of the iconic color palate.  Though we might think of them geographically, video game maps are equally artificial ways to relate to a big pile of numerical data.

World maps as Chinese zodiac

Artist Kentaro Nagai has used the continents (and major islands) as a medium to create the twelve signs of the Chinese zodiac.  See all of them here.

I particularly like the economy of arrangement in the rooster:

Rooster from Chinese zodiac

…and the sheep for it’s nice use of negative space.

The sheep from the Chinese zodiac

Thanks to Chris for the link to the Zodiac

New social news site – NewsTrust.net

I happened across NewsTrust.net, a new social news aggregation site.  I’m a big fan of other sites in the category like Reddit, despite their flaws, and NewsTrust includes a tagging system so I feel obligated to investigate it like any other folksonomy.

So I created an account to give it a try.  The big difference between this site and others is the emphasis on quality journalism.  NewsTrust asks for your real name, and in addition to giving weight to users who write good reviews and get votes from other users, it adds factors like experience as a journalist to the mix.  It makes specific disticntions between mainstream media sources and altenrative media sources.

It’s an interesting idea, and it’s good to see journalists working together with programmers and web developers to make use of some of the social software techniques that newspaper websites so often catch on the trailing edge.  The site’s features seem geared toward providing users with the best that professional journalism has to offer with a dash of brilliant amateur writing thrown in – even the page layout looks more like a newspaper site than a Digg or Del.icio.us clone.

But I’m not sure it will work, at least not without some tweaking.  I don’t know if they put a lot of weight into the “experience” of users, but it didn’t require any verification of my 5-9 years of journalism experience (for the record, that’s four years in college plus more than a year of stringing here and there).  Here’s the problem of trust again, though hopefully mitigated by fellow users’ reviews.

The other issue is interaction design.  The widgets and buttons all work just fine, but when you rate a story you’re asked to score on six dimensions: Recommendation, Trust, Information, Fairness, Sources, and Context.  Only the first is required, but give users options and they are bound to feel obligated to exercise them.  Give them too many tasks and they will tend to give up.  So the simple interaction model of Reddit, where users don’t even have to click through to rate a story, might be information-poor but participation-rich in comparison.

Still, I will play with the site more and I wish them luck, I think they have some promising ideas.  For example, in their blog they talk about gathering sources from other countries based on big world news events, specifically the Russian invasion of Georgia.  Reddit is only fleetingly so reflective and few sites use temporary peaks in interest to get long-term data on source credibility.