Tuesday, August 2, 2005


TagCloud (beta)

TagCloud (beta) returns keywords and phrases from a collection of RSS feeds.  I have yet to dig very far into their methods for arriving at the set of keywords from the set of feeds, but for a first run, it yielded a tag-set that accords fairly well with the feed.  Just to experiment, I've posted a cloud in the right sidebar; for now, it draws on the atom feed for this weblog alone. A cloud (this one or a second one) might draw on a set of feeds from comp/rhet bloggers, general news feeds, or any other collection worth glancing into periodically.

TagCloud tag-sets are now available in XML, which makes them friendly to some other possibilities (underway, at least conceptually).  But TagCloud also works with OPML imports, which means that it would be simple to export an OPML file with all of your feeds from Bloglines, for example, and import them into a single TagCloud.  Optimally, the feeds would pull from atom feeds to reflect, in the tag-sets, the full texts of each entry.  The cloud is easy to re-size, too; the items (words/phrases) range between 1 and 200 (maybe higher?) simply by altering the URL, and the cloud responds to CSS.

The TagCloud site pitches the tag-set as a folksonomy, and as I was reading around, and finding that there seems to be some disagreement about whether a folksonomy can be automated or whether it must be socially generated.  It raises a difficult question: what puts the folk(s) in folksonomy? My first hunch is that an automated tagging system is not folksonymic but rather lexicanymic (trust me on this coinage, just this once!). Still, I'm not sure whether the difference is significant.  Is a folksonomy indexically superior?  A folksonomy developed by distributed readers might not match perfectly with the auto-generated term-set, but the auto-generated term set, at the very least, corresponds with the words (albeit with a technical intervention, rather than an interpretive one?).  Oh, I don't know.  But I definitely find the automatic tag-set fascinating as an alter-reading on what I write/post here (a whirling, rain-making thunderhead or thin cirrus).  In this sense, it's much less about the memorial/indexical qualities than it is a way of rediscovering my thinking/writing through the loosely convened vapor-text embodied in the cloud.  Inventive possibilities in the TagCloud?

I should probably add that all uses of the TagCloud needn't be so self-centered.  I'm going to watch the side panel for a while and consider adding a cloud more inclusive of the feeds I read. 

Bookmark and Share Posted by at August 2, 2005 2:24 PM to Design