Jam Jars, Tagging and an extended simile

| June 29, 2010

I’ve been digging around in Pressible blogs as well as “blogs at large” and I noticed a pattern in tagging.  People are more than willing to tag the subject of a post, or taggable item, but not necessarily the contents.  Sometimes if the content varies from the expected hole, like this Library of congress image from Flickr because it includes a drawing, that tag is included, however it also includes photographic images, but there is no photograph tag, it’s assumed by the fact that it’s on Flickr.   I do the very same thing.  When I’m making a tag list, I think exclusively about the subject of my posts, and the subject of the various media objects I might include, but rarely do I tag something as the media or carrier.

It feels a little bit like if I were labeling leftovers and I wrote both “marinara sauce” and then “tupperware” on a piece of scotch tape on the tupperware.  It seems excessive.  We only need the information about the stuff we can’t see (i.e. the sauce within the container), to distinguish it from other red goo in various containers within the refrigerator.  We can see the containers, and therefor don’t need to label them by their container type.

If you continue that simile , we need to both label the contents of the post, as well as the container, because a blog post is more like the refrigerator, and the tagging list is more like a list you’d put on the door of the fridge for people to read before they opened it (obviously with more dynamic navigation options).  Unlike with a fridge, you might just open the door and root around in there, with a blog, it’s like someone sent you to a room of fridge’s looking for a jar of jelly.  In the online world, you would want to narrow down your options as soon as possible by as many things as possible.  You would first want to look ONLY at the refrigerators with jars in them, then look for the jars with jelly, and finally the flavor

Ok, I’m stretching this simile to it’s full capacity but the point is, the various media types are the jars, the subject of those media are the flavored jelly.  Labeling whether the subject of your post is contained within a video, audio or image file within your post will help people to narrow their options for browsing.  You want to give readers as many ways to limit the number of posts they have to scan to find what they’re looking for, and we often forget media type as a way to do that.