Tagging: next big thing?

Position:UP FRONT: News, Trends, & Analysis

Computer users create large amounts of content each day. But organizing and retrieving it can be a real challenge.

Fortunately, there's a new way that doesn't involve folders or albums. It's called "tagging," and many believe it has the potential to change how users find digital content--images, ideas, people, and video--online.

It could be the life jacket that computer users need to save them from drowning in the swelling ocean of data that's being amassed on hard drives and the Internet.

The basic idea behind tagging is that humans' ability to produce content far outweighs their ability to sort and consume it. Experts say tagging is about tapping the collective human wisdom rather than relying on a computer algorithm for search.

And that human wisdom can help users discover information a computer might not otherwise know to retrieve. With the growing amount of material that is not easily searchable--including photos, sound, and video clips--tags become even more important.

With tags, users simply label photos individually when they first store them, with descriptive words such as "vacation," "anniversary," or "baby" and with the names of the people in...

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