Re: Hierarchical tags

From: Stefano Mazzocchi <>
Date: Fri, 28 Oct 2005 10:09:05 -0400

Brett Zamir wrote:
> And how about a browseable hierarchy for tags as well, drawing from
> Princeton's WordNet perhaps (as one option for those who didn't want to
> start from scratch), in order to allow the user to come across results for
> similar concepts (e.g., while browsing for the tag "pizza", one could easily
> get to tags for "pasta", etc.). This hierarchy could be editable along the
> lines of (and even interfaceable with) Wikipedia's category structure.

I've been thinking long and hard about this. Probably even too much.
Clearly, the lack of relationships between tags is damaging, especially
when the tag space starts to grow.

The problem, though, is that the relationships between those tags should
be folksonomized themselves, or we can run into trouble on a globally
distribute tag space.

For example: suppose you tag something with "blog" and I tag the same
thing with "blogs". The edit distance between the label of our two tags
is small enough that I can run a levenshtein distance and present you
(or me or somebody else) with a potential relationship field

  blogs --- [edit text here ]---> blog

then you can type "plural of" and it becomes another statement. At that
point, now we have a relationship between your tag and mine, clearly
typed as a relationship. Later somebody else might say

  "plural of" -(is a)-> "collapsable property"

so that the system might know that when you find blogs or blog they
really mean the same thing. (in OWL terms, a "collapsable property" does
the same of an OWL equivalence but in the folksological space)

The same emergence can be done by running such a distance against
wordnet, which would yield the ability to draw equivalences between tags
and words in wordnet... but again, those relationships are *YOURS*, not
global, then I can decide whether or not I agree or disagree or even
slightly want to differentiate myself from your vision... defaulting to
agreeing which is by far the most common case in folksological spaces.

I'm not inclined to introduce something that can't scale to an entire
world of people tagging... and not tagging things apple or blog, but
things like abortion or war or holocaust or religion or terrorism, where
meaning *and* relationships are highly dependent on the personal context.

And yes, there is an entire virgin research field on its own on doing
non-DL reasoning on a folksological space and I am very interested in
that research area myself, but tying tags to wordnet won't scale
socially, therefore has very little appeal to me even if immediately
would be useful.

That said, this is only my personal opinion and I don't speak for the
entire group... and remember, this is an open source project so patches
are always welcome :-)

Stefano Mazzocchi
Research Scientist                 Digital Libraries Research Group
Massachusetts Institute of Technology            location: E25-131C
77 Massachusetts Ave                   telephone: +1 (617) 253-1096
Cambridge, MA  02139-4307              email: stefanom at mit . edu
Received on Fri Oct 28 2005 - 14:03:33 EDT

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