Tag Archives: Bookmarks

Visualizing time trends in how a site is tagged on del.icio.us: cloudalicious

The previous entry was about “powerlaws in the use of tags on del.icio.us”. Then at http://del.icio.us/tag/powerlaw, i found Pietro Speroni’s great post Tagclouds and cultural changes that (also) introduces cloudalicious, a one-night project of Terrell Russell. Cloudalicious shows the evolution in time of the tags used to tag any page on del.icio.us. Very very cool!!!
I tried to find a URL that was showing a non-converging behaviour but I failed. (Pietro was already providing some examples of sites presenting interesting trends in tags use.) Are your able to find at least one controversial URL? A site for which there was a great swift in time in the tags used for it.
For your information, I already tried with sites tagged on del.icio.us under controversial tags (such as abortion, scientology, jew), I tried with microsoft.com (as I was thinking may people would have tagged it as evil but this is not the case [in general people tend to tag what they like and less what they don’t like in order not to increase the visibility of it, so I tried with “terri schiavo blog” that was very visible for a short period of time and I was suspecting the “tasteless” or “awful” tags were much more and growing over time but this is not the case]).
The only one with a little bit of variance over time I was able to find is boingboing.net. See cloudalicious for http://boingboing.netcloudgraph_boingboing.jpgDel.icio.users seem to recognize it as a news site as time passes by. And it also seems that Del.icio.users are moving from “blogs” to “blog” as tag (common pattern or just for boingboing?).
There is some variance also with http://del.icio.us itself: see cloudalicious for http://del.icio.us
So I just repeat the small challenge: Can you find a URL that presents non-converging tags use?

Small suggestion for Terrell Russell (I write it here since I was not able to find his email address on his web site). [I’m sure he probably has already figured out by itself this suggestion since he was so good to put together in one night a great tool!]
Cloudalicious interface at the moment asks for These URLs (that) can be found at del.icio.us – they’re the red “and X other people” links. (for example, http://del.icio.us/url/ec08a8ddfda4f2f9cad3a142dc49e23b represents http://boingboing.net/).
ec08a8ddfda4f2f9cad3a142dc49e23b is the md5sum of http://boingboing.net/
There are 2 easy way to obtain it automatically: (1) run md5sum on the server, (2) use http://del.icio.us/url?url=http://… (in which http://… can be replaced by the website we want to cloudicious).
In this way, users could enter in the Cloudicious interface, the real URL they are interested in (http://boingboing.net) and not the less easy to find (http://del.icio.us/url/ec08a8ddfda4f2f9cad3a142dc49e23b)
A bookmarklet and a greasemonkey extension (working on the site the user is browsing) are left as easy exercise for the reader as well ;-)

Lastly, let me mention that one of the key point of Clay Shirky in Ontology is Overrated: Categories, Links, and Tags that is also present is Pietro’s post is that the correct way of categorizing something does not exist (initial Yahoo! approach was trying to force this and failed and librarians still (must) try to adopt this semplifying but wrong assumption). Instead there are as many correct ways of categorizing a thing as there are users. This resonates with my study on controversial users on Epinions (pdf): the idea that there is a global value of trustworthiness/reputation for every user/peer in the system does not make sense but still most of the papers in the reputation/trust literature start with this wrong and misleading assumption.

UPDATE: I just found it now but Pietro in
On Tag Clouds, Metric, Tag Sets and Power Laws was already mentioning that the paper by Clay Shirky “Power Laws, Weblogs, and Inequality” started to be tagged as longtail only after the article from Wired: The Long Tail came out. See cloudalicious for http://www.shirky.com/writings/powerlaw_weblog.html.

Use of Tags on del.icio.us follows a powerlaw

I read the wonderful Ontology is Overrated: Categories, Links, and Tags by Clay Shirky (highly recommended! Read it all!). Near the end, he speaks about “Tag Distributions on del.icio.us” and shows a graph that resembles a powerlaw (even if this is about only 2 hours of activity of 64 del.icio.users). After 2 weeks of powerlaws, I see powerlaws everywhere and I thought “let’s try to test the hypothesis on a bigger dataset from del.icio.us”. Well, few googling-minutes told me that many people had already had this idea and already performed tests on del.icio.us.
And of course many of them can be found looking at http://del.icio.us/tag/powerlaw (the del.icio.us page that shows all the URLs tagged under “powerlaw”) [this is kind of uber-cool-self-referentialism].
Among the many, I just cite http://www.cozy.org/d/
(from which the image shown here is taken), where 84 popular URLs are studied and shown to exhibit a powerlaw structure (in the tags used for them). I suspect the value of del.icio.us can be found in the long tail of tagging as well.
Each dot on the log-log charts represent a tag. The most used tag appears to the left while the least appears to the right. All charts have the same x and y range, .5 to 1350; so the slope of these lines is about -1.