Marnie Webb, TechSoup
Beth Kanter, Beth’s Blog
Tagging facilitates the sharing of information among members of a distributed community, and it can also help form or catalyze a community. In some respects the NpTech tag serves as a beacon to attract people interested in sharing resources on nonprofit technology and makes it easier to form connections and relationships with new people. The NpTech tag is also easy to use - the services are free, and many people have already incorporated services like del.icio.us and Flickr into their knowledge management practices. Furthermore, many tagging services encourage connections and conversations around particular tags via embedded social networking features. For more on this, see
Marnie’s blog, and Beth's NpTech Tag presentation.
The next improvements to the community might include social search, an improved visual interface, and retrieval. Social search using rating systems will make the NpTech tagged resources more digestible and give the resources a stamp of approval from peers. A visual interface - be it a tag cloud or a directory - will give people a way to explore the data. Finally, the ability to retrieve specific information efficiently will make the collection of resources more helpful but begs the question of how to take the tagging data accumulated over the past two years and transform it into a taxonomy.
We also need to look at social design. What are the group’s behaviors? The fact is that the most valuable aspect of the NpTech tagging community is the connections it enables between people with similar interests and the resulting conversations. Potential ad hoc collaborations begin where the information leaves off.
We've learned that there are different roles in a tagging community. There is a need for information and an intermediary or human who can put the information into context. Not everyone needs to hunt and gather or look at large amounts of information on the Internet. Not everyone needs to tag. If just 5 to 10 percent of the community is doing some tagging, it helps the rest. The other 90 percent can be the consumers and/or evaluators of the information.
We don't have answers as to how the NpTech Tagging community fits into the larger NpTech community - we only have questions. Initially a lot of content tagged “NpTech” related to Web2.0 or social media tools. This isn’t surprising given that tagging was in the early adopter stage. What is beginning to happen now is that a broader range of topics are being incorporated. What is the best way to "curate" this ever broadening stream of resources so that it has meaning for the broader field? Should there be sub-topic curators or editors or summarizers? Given the increasing number of information resources, when will the automated filtering systems become overwhelmed?