Jeff Jarvis called for decentralised tags and restaurant reviews, and Stowe Boyd posted some ideas about how to achieve this.
Unfortunately, Stowe misunderstood how the existing open, decentralised tagging model works, and went off into a design dead-end because of this.
Stowe confuses the tagspace linked to (which provides the context for the meaning of the tag), with the services that can index the tag. These are completely independent. You can link to Technorati, your own site, Wikipedia or anyone who provides a tagspace with a URL that ends in the tag you want - for example:
<a href="http://www.corante.com/getreal" rel="tag">Get real</a>
<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/decentralisation" rel="tag" >decentralisation</a>,
<a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Stowe Boyd" rel="tag" >Stowe Boyd</a>
which displays as:
Get real decentralisation
, Stowe Boyd
This will tag this post with 'getreal', 'decentralisation' and 'Stowe Boyd', while providing informative links on each tag.
Similarly, anyone can index the tags provided this way. They are open and loosely coupled. Technorati indexes all links with
rel="tag" on as tags, independent of which site they link to. We designed the spec that way from day one to avoid lock-in, and encourage adoption. When he says "If I want to get today's Technorati to work, I still need to create URLs that are Technorati specific", he is completely wrong.
Stowe then spends a lot of space worrying about the problem of where he links to, as if this is set in stone at the time of posting. This is not just premature optimisation, it's optimising for a nonexistent problem. Because you control your own data on your own blog, if you later decide to link to a different tagspace, you can change your own links; you don't need an elaborate and fragile RSS hybrid with mandated behaviour to do so. The choice of tagspace is an important one, but I would contend that Technorati's page that collates posts from anyone that uses that tag in a blog, and also on photo and like services like Flickr, Buzznet, del.icio.us and Furl is more open than a solipsistic category on your own site. However, if like Humpty-Dumpty, you decide that "When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less", you can use your own personal tagspace to clarify this.
Owning your own data is the key point.
The microformats model is to encode common data formats in XHTML so you can put the data on your own blog, and multiple tools can take advantage of it. Your data can travel inside webpages, feeds, and anywhere else HTML, RSS, Atom, or any future XML format can go, without having to build elaborate new infrastructure to make it work.
Adding new specialised RSS-only feeds for this, and requiring indexers to poll them, as Stowe suggests, is far more work than adding
rel="tag" to a few links, and little bits of extra work like that don't get done - after all the sidebar link to my posts on this blog still shows an error after 10 months here (note: use the W3C link checker to easily find such problems).
Doing things openly is more work than building a proprietary site to edit your data, but we think ti is worth the benefits. Lets look at the example of tagging restaurant reviews that both Jeff and Stowe mention.
The microformat way to do this is to use hReview, an open standard for publishing reviews. I missed Stowe's original post because I was down on the coast on Friday, so here's a review of the restaurant I had lunch in:
Wonderful seafood, workmanlike ambience Jul 22, 2005
by Kevin Marks
★★★★★ Phil's is tucked away in between the docks and the beach in Moss Landing, where it gets first pick of the fish landed there each day, and cooks up delicious fresh seafood dishes that would cost 3 times as much in SF. Resolutely unostentatious, you order food by lining up at the cash register, and while you can sit outside, the seats face the power station opposite the front, rather than the beach at the back.
Technorati and other comprehensive blog indexers will pick up the 'seafood','fish', 'outside' and 'Moss Landing' tags from that and associate them with this post, but a specialised service looking for reviews could see them in the context of the 'hreview' class, and use the more structured rating data to make more sense of it.
It would be easier to build a closed restaurant rating service that required you to come to it to fill in and store your reviews, but it is easier and better for independent publishers to own their own data.
Stowe, I'm glad you're interested in Open Tagging, and I hope I've explained it better now. Do come along to Tag Tuesday's July meeting tomorrow 6:30pm - 9:30pm at 77 Natoma Street in SF and talk to me and other Open Tagging developers about it (yes, that event is a microformat too).
"The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."
"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master - that's all."
Technorati Tags: Open Tags, tagtuesday, technorati