Pete's Alley - Typed Tags

Written by Rich Morin.

Contents: (hide) (show)

Path:  AreasContentOverviews

Precis:  how and why Pete's Alley uses typed tags

Clay Shirky has a great essay called Ontology is Overrated - Categories, Links, and Tags. In it, he contends that folksonomies (e.g., tags and searching) work better than ontologies (e.g., categories and relationships) for most Internet-scale collections of information. The following table attempts to summarize some of his thinking. For example, ontologies work better than folksonomies when clear distinctions are present:

Characteristic Ontologies Folksonomies
clear distinctions present absent
coordination present absent
entity restrictions present absent
entity stability present absent
formal categories present absent
limited domain present absent
user expertise present absent

While we largely agree with his analysis, we feel that ontologies and folksonomies both offer advantages for our use case. So, we use a set of predefined “types” to provide a controlled vocabulary. Within each type, the tag strings are user-definable, as in a folksonomy. This provides a useful amount of order, while allowing a great deal of flexibility.

We currently use about twenty tag types, though suggestions for added or modified types are welcome. Here’s a precis of the current tag types, with links to more detailed descriptions:

aliases alternative names for this item
directories directory nodes on item's path
features noteworthy features of this item
impairments relevant impairments for this item
interfaces ways to access or use this item
licenses licenses imposed by this item
miscellany miscellaneous tags for this item
produces types of items produced by this item
products trade names of this item's products
replaces things that this item could replace
requires commands, libraries, etc.
roles roles which this item can play
runs_on platforms that this software runs on
skills skills which this individual claims
standards standards which this item follows
supports activities that this item supports
used_like items that are used similarly

We also use several ref (reference) types. These show up as links on item pages and are also folded into the tags, for searching. Here’s a precis of the current ref types, with links to more detailed descriptions:

based_on underlying items
f_authors authors of this file
f_editors editors of this file
f_reviews catalog entry reviewers
provider providers of this item
provides items this item provides
see_also strongly related items

Type Descriptions

directories

The directories tags are the names of directories on the item’s file path. So, for example, the TOML file for this page has the path Areas/Content/Overviews/PA_Typed_Tags/main.toml. The corresponding tag’s value is a list, containing the strings Areas, Content, and Overviews. This information is harvested at load time, so it does not need to be present in the TOML source file.

f_authors

The f_authors type contains a list of IDs for the authors of the TOML file. For example, Amanda Lacy has the ID Amanda_Lacy.

f_editors

The f_editors type contains a list of IDs for the editors of the TOML file. For example, Rich Morin has the ID Rich_Morin.

f_reviews

The f_reviews type contains a list of IDs for the reviewers of items in the Catalog area. For example, Rich Morin has the ID Rich_Morin.

features

The features type includes noteworthy features of this item. For example, the Anova Precision Cooker has the feature immersable.

impairments

The impairments type includes relevant impairments for this item. For example, the Anova Precision Cooker has the impairments blind and low vision.

interfaces

The interfaces type includes ways to access or use this item. For example, the Alpine email client has the interfaces command line, email, terminal-based, and text-based.

licenses

The licenses type includes licenses imposed by this item. For example, the Alpine email client has the licenses Apache and open source.

miscellany

The miscellany type includes miscellaneous tags for this item. The presence of tags in this type tends to be temporary, going away when an appropriate type has been defined.

produces

The produces type includes types of items produced by this item. For example, Anova Culinary produces appliances and hardware.

products

The products type includes trade names of this item’s products. For example, Anova Culinary has a products entry for the Anova Precision Cooker.

provider

The provider type includes IDs for Group items. For example, the Anova Precision Cooker has a provider entry for Anova Culinary.

provides

The provides type includes IDs for items that this Group provides. For example, Anova Culinary has a provides entry for the Anova Precision Cooker.

replaces

The replaces type includes things that this item could replace. For example, the Clever Cutter replaces a cutting board and a knife.

requires

The requires type includes things (e.g., commands, libraries) which this item requires. For example, the Sup email client requires an interpreter and environment for the Ruby language.

roles

The roles type includes roles which this item can play. For example, Anova Culinary is both a company and a manufacturer.

see_also

The see_also type includes IDs for closely related items. For example, VOISS Classic has a see_also entry for F123Light.

skills

The skills type includes skills which this individual claims. For example, Rich Morin claims skills as an author, computer programmer, and editor.

standards

The standards type includes standards which this item follows. For example, the Anova Precision Cooker supports the Bluetooth and Wi-Fi standards.

supports

The supports type includes activities that this item supports. For example, the Alpine email client supports communication.

used_like

The used_like type includes items that are used similarly to this item. For example, the Clever Cutter is used like (a pair of) scissors.