Feb 11 2009

Listening vs. doing at CHIFOO

Published by at 1:52 pm under tagging,technology_stewardship

One of my challenges in talking about communities and technology is that I’m more committed and passionate about “doing it” than talking about it.  Despite getting introduced by the likes of Ward Cunningham as “a researcher,” I’m always more interested in trying to change how we participate in a conversation than in standing on the podium explaining to a passive audience how much more fun real participation really is.  So in my talk at CHIFOO tonight, I am going to talk about communities and technology — but I’m hoping to help augment community participation and push the conversation forward.

Carrie Gilbert, the CHIFOO program chair, and I came up with the idea of a “CHIFOO Tagging Project,” as described on the CHIFOO site:

In keeping with our 2009 Program Series’ theme of “Collaboration,” CHIFOO will be embarking on an experiment in online/offline community-building. Here’s what we’re asking everyone in CHIFOO to do: When you come across online articles, resources, discussions, and so on that you would like to share with the CHIFOO community as a whole, tag them with the del.icio.us bookmark ”chifoo09”.

Because I couldn’t make it to the January meeting and I guess the agenda was full, the project was announced without a lot of context in the website.  So, since December, there have been more than 80 items tagged on Delicious, by fellene, mattholm, pheuser, skry, and, yours truly, smithjd.  Skry, in particular has dived in with gusto, tagging dozens and dozens of things.  I’m going to try to give a lot more context and focus to the idea tonight.

Eventually, I’m hoping that there can be some social, reflective activity around the tagging practice, along the lines of Beth Kanter’s regular summaries of the NPtech tagstream.  I feel like I should demonstrate in place what I’m talking about.  Hence this post.  Being very lazy, I did some screen-scraping and put the tags that were used with chifoo09 in wordle to get a kind of topic summary:

That’s not a bad glimpse into what I think CHIFOO members are thinking about.  I noticed that Wordle will take a URL, so thinking that producing a really easy summary of a tag stream without having to resort to screen-scraping and regular expressions and time consuming geekery, I inserted the tag’s url: http://delicious.com/tag/chifoo09 .  This is what I got:

Twitter? That didn’t make much sense. Digging a bit, it turns out that Wordle was looking at the default 10 tagged items, and an 11-year-old blogger named Gloson from Malasia was featured at the top of the page.  Well, perhaps he should have a voice in the CHIFOO conversation.  Have a look.  Discuss.

I guess like every tagstream, there is more in it than you can possibly explore in one sitting.  You have to have some decision rules to prevent getting lost.  Here’s one rule: what are the most-tagged items that are also tagged with the CHIFOO09 tag?  Here are the three most-frequently-tagged:

That’s a pretty pretty geeky set of items.

What are other stopping rules?

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