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The Human Side of Search: Taggregation

As more and more content gets posted online by organizations and individuals, the barriers to finding the content that truly matters are getting higher.  Search algorithms are valuable for helping to sort through this information, but unfortunately the automated approach can only go so far and falls short when it comes to less well recognized niche content (part of the long tail) or newer content that has not had time to be indexed.  Augmenting search algorithms is the human side of search – where individuals are manually grouping content, creating new ways to find or browse, and generally becoming the gatekeepers of information.  Across the Internet, there are multiple examples of this, from the rise of social bookmarking sites like del.icio.us to people sharing their "searchrolls" on sites like Rollyo.com.  An example of the rise of the human side of search is the phenomenon of Taggregation …

The Trend: Taggregation
Taggregation, as it sounds, is a term used to describe the phenomenon of aggregating content online based on using a common keyword tagging structure.  Sites that use this structure include del.icio.us, digg.com, and Technorati.  What is interesting about taggregation is that it offers an alternate way of browsing content on sites that often also offer search capabilities.  There are challenges with taggregation, namely the requirement that users choose the exact same tags for content (plurals and spacing or underscores can create problems), but even with these hurdles the tag view offers a useful method for aggregating content and is growing in popularity as a resource to filter content for users to digest without the necessity for using search tools.  This is a concept that is already being used by several smart folks for PR.  One example is how BuzzAgent (through their agency) has created an archive of articles and blog posts discussing Word of Mouth marketing.  This archive, hosted on del.icio.us, offers a central resource for anyone looking for a list of resources on the topic, and is even indexed by tonality.  Another example is Technorati’s highly useful index of blogs by topic through their "Blog Finder" feature.  Bloggers who have claimed their blogs in Technorati self select the keywords that apply to their blog and blogs are then taggregated by topic.  Over time, it is likely many more examples of taggregation will appear. 

Note: This post is the first in a series of explorations of the human side of search that relate to my upcoming presentation at the Search Insider Summit this week in Keystone, Colorado.

UPDATE: Listen to an MP3 of the presentation or download it.

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