Tagging takes off

Twenty-eight per cent of US internet users have tagged, and seven per cent do it daily, says a new study.

Tagging is the latest internet phenomenon to be studied by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, so this first look at its popularity gives no sense of trend. What we do know, however, is that tagging-based sites, such as flickr.com and del.icio.us, are growing in popularity.

The Pew report features in interview with David Weinberger of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard, who sees a bright future for tagging:

Because it’s useful when there’s lots of information and the information is truly meaningful to individuals, it’ll be adopted more and more widely. But we’re also going to invent new ways to harvest tagging. Flickr, for example, is already able to cluster photographs by subject with impressive accuracy just by analyzing their tags, so that photos of Gerald Ford are separated from photos of Ford Motor cars. We’ll also undoubtedly figure out how to intersect tags with social networks, so that the tags created by people we know and respect have more “weight” when we search for tagged items. In fact, by analyzing how various social groups use tags, we can do better at understanding how seemingly different worldviews map to one another.

Hmm, think I’ll tag this post:

Complain, if you dare

An agitated reader who called the San Francisco Chronicle to complain about the phrase “pilotless drone” in a photo caption got more than he bargained for in response.

The newspaper put his voicemail tirade into its audio podcast feature Correct me if I’m wrong.

Then someone remixed the audio with a dance beat and posted it on YouTube.

Then it was sliced into a set of comical telephone “whooptones“.

And now, as CBS Public Eye comments, we’re blogging about it.

All very funny, and something I can sympathise with, having listened to a few abusive readers over the years.

So, was the Chronicle justified in starting this whole thing by posting the audio in its podcast? In my opinion, yes. It’s not unlike a letter to the editor, which gets published, generally without rebuttal, in a newspaper.

I have a couple of concerns, however:

  1. Anyone who leaves a voicemail message that may be published in audio or text form should be informed of that possiblity at the outset. Presumably the Chronicle did this in its voicemail greeting.
  2. Publishers need to be aware that some people, particularly if they are not subject to identity verification, may complain loud and long and colorfully in hopes of getting their 15 seconds of fame. Any decision to publish the comments should be based on how much they illuminate an issue, not on how angry (or stupid) the person sounded.

Hat tip: CBS Public  Eye

Gattung gone

Telecom chief executive Theresa Gattung has resigned from the $2.9m job. [audio announcement]

It’s been a tough year at New Zealand’s largest listed company. Last May the Government announced it would impose the long-deferred unbundling of the local loop which caused Telecom’s share price to plummet.

In November, the Government said it would force the company to split into three units: network access, wholesale and retail.

Telecom’s internet users have also been up in arms over the move to unconstrained ADSL which saw many customers experiencing even slower internet connections.

Nevertheless, Telecom today reported a half-year profit of $452m.