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Folders versus Tags

Folders vs Tagging Who wins when it comes to making your business information easy to find in the social age? "Stored Information in a business environment is only as valvable as its effectiveness in being used and reused. Storing information that is impossible to locate -independent of the content- is by definition pointless." The amount of information Twentieth century: The invention of the computer and the Internet means digitalization of information and instant replication across the globe being stored and shared is EXPLODING "There was 5 exabytes of information created between the dawn of civilization through 2003, but that much information is now created every 2 days, and the pace is increasing." Google CEO Eric Schmidt (2010) Middle ages: Invention of the printing press, mass distribution is a fact Dawn of civilization: Cave paintings, clay tablets, scrolls, parchment. For the first time, information is recorded for posterity History of Data Knowledge is Power! But the amount and complexity of the data we store makes it increasingly harder to find the information we need without some sort of categorization or classification 1960-1975 1975-2000 2000-.. 'Age of data' Information is mainly stored as individual data items in databases. Databases, ERP's 'Data in context Recognition that 'data'alone isn't enough, you need context. Email and document management becomes popular. MS Office, Mail, File systems 'Age of collaboration' Focus on knowledge management and capturing knowledge. Social software takes flight. Enterprise Social Networks, profiles, blogs, wikis, etc COMPLEXITY WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO CLASSIFY? Pink! Magenta! Are we even speaking the same language? Folders? Tags? social classification collaborative tagging Hierarchical Structured Taxonomy - social? - Folksonomy "Old school?" Granulated: Each sub level is a particularization of the level above "Flat' structure: Tags don't necessarily have a relation to any other tags Multiple points of connection: Any tag will lead to the item Predictability / Uniformity: Forces a common language for categorization Office building Legal Location based Reference based 2014 Is often seen as visually less 'cluttered" Doesn't restrict to single relation categorization 2014 Contractoffce building Meadow Lane Multiple people tagging can induce a system ane Legal Allows for content management options pE Cantrats like folder meta-data Period: Jan 2014 - Jun 2014 Retention period: 7 yrs of weighted relevance (tag clouds) Allows for access control & security options Increases the chance of accidental finds "KNOWLEDGE ACCIDENTS". Files Any digital item The rise of Enterprise Social Networks (ESNS) and other systems of engagement has seen a surge in information systems that allow users to store information outside of the traditional "Docoment" model, wikis, forums, blogs, comments, status updates and tasks are some of these. Their strength is often in the context in which the information was created which means they can't be placed in folders as that would destroy that context. What the "haters" say... Yuk, tags! Ogh, folders! Can only be used on files Often the cause of unwanted file duplication Folder security can prevent knowledge exchange Rigid and restrictive, hard to change once set Not ideal for 'social content Too many options, confusing! No consistency in tag naming Non-commital, users often skip adding tags Often looks cluttered to first time users Too informal for highly structured information Prevents creation of a common term set Ad hoc or according to one person's preference Here's a thought: Why not both? Some systems make a hard distinction between tags & folders and enforce one. Others offer a mix or leave the choice up to the user. An example of that is Gmail, which introdvced a tagging system (labels) for its email bot left folders in place GMail for those who preferred that form of categorization. Folders vs Tagging Which do YOU prefer? Credits: Femke Goedhart is a business consultant specializing in social business and enterprise content management. For more information visit

Folders versus Tags

shared by fgoedhart on Dec 31
Finding information is critical to have it be worth the effort of saving, but the amount of information we save nowadays makes it harder and harder to do so. Categorization and classification helps bu...


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