Common Tag

I don’t know how I missed this.  Once I found it, though, I kept checking to see if it was an April Fool’s joke.

Common Tag is a format that embeds defined tags in a document or object.  That’s right — tags that are already defined; not free-text tagging.  In other words, they’re providing a way to link to a subject heading.  And are they using existing thesauri?  No.  Right now, they are using two:  Freebase, a community managed database of concepts; and Wikipedia.

So, here’s the problem as they see it.  When people tag, sometimes it isn’t clear which definition of the word they are using, e.g., orange the color, the county, the fruit.  In addition, they found that people tag the same thing using variations, e.g., nyc, newyorkcity, newy0rk.  Do these problems sound familiar?  They are the same issues the library field dealt with years ago.

I don’t have a problem with the project as a whole, but to re-create controlled vocabulary like this when you can at least start with one like LCSH seems . . . silly.


3 responses to “Common Tag

  1. David Bigwood March 9, 2010 at 3:17 pm

    Tagging with Wikipedia is so last decade. If you are going to use a controlled vocabulary use one that fits RDF, DBpedia or Then you have linked data, data that can be reused.

  2. David Bigwood March 9, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    I should have read the press release before leaving a reply. It is creating linked data. DBpedia and Freebase are somehow connected. Since it is linked data the concept they link to and the one at can be linked also.

    They are using a controlled vocabulary, if not a thesaurus. Wikipedia terms have some rules for construction and disambiguation. Its structure is only a bit looser than LCSH. The DBpeida is a dump of the entire Wikipedia which is then converted to RDF. Just as is a conversion of LCSH to a Web service.

  3. Christine Peterson March 10, 2010 at 4:25 pm

    David —

    You obviously know more about this than I do. From what you’re saying, they could have just as easily used LC as a start, right? Maybe using Wikipedia brings to it more of a grass-roots created thesaurus? Easier to use and understand than LC?


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