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5 Useful Things About People-Tagging

Tags and tag clouds are everywhere but they are generally used to tag content (pictures, blog postings, documents, bookmarks ... ) and rarely to tag people.

But I think people-tagging* unleashes a world of hidden and unknown connections across an organisation. Who knew Smith from Accounts also designed websites in his spare time, how can we bring together all those people that love using Google Apps to share the love, who can help with this emergency press release ...

Through tagging you can start to discover and nurture the informal communities which are, I would content, the more useful and sustainable types.

The opportunities to use a VERY simple approach (tagging/tag clouds) to unearth the hidden potential of your employees is one I love showing organisations and the outcome (decreased cost, improved service and/or increased reveneue) can be immediate.

One final benefit that I have recently used people-tagging was sharing and merging of languages (buzzwords, techncal jargon, business speak meeting real world plain English).

Huh? Geeks (a phrase I use lovingly and with great respect) have a certain way of looking at the world and they have generated a whole new language. For instance, they don't talk about phones, they refer to telecommunication devices; they don't talk about intranets but refer to on-line collaborations spaces ... you get the picture. All well and good until the worlds and languages are asked to interact - when people want to find a geek they rarely use the geeks langauge. With the ability to tag others these languages can merge - Mike Riversdale may have tagged himself as "web2.0, collaboration, knowledge management" but his tag cloud has been augmented with real terms such as "intranet, facebook, google, information" - the worlds merge.

Much learning from all worlds normall occurs!

And so, the 5 useful things:
  1. Organisations become aware of what people actually do
  2. People can find people
  3. Communities can be discovered and nurtured
  4. Languages can be merged and barriers broken down
  5. ...!
Number 5 purposely left blank for YOU to fill in ... leave a comment

Further reading:
And a few funnies for you to giggle at:

* "People-Tagging" in the sense of applying a category to a person and not scrawling all over them with a spray can ... although that could be fun as well. AND "tagging" by applying this category to an on-line profile and not slapping on an electronic taggging device to the ankle to stop you breaking your prison conditions - hence the picture.


  1. Hey,

    Not meaning to post an advert, but this is quite related to my masters research thesis I wrote last year. Basically my work was to infer relationships in peoples tags, such that languages could be merged. In the end, my system could determine the trustworthiness of users based on the tags they apply (all user data was purposefully hidden, so trust could not be overruled based on office politics, etc).

    I then added a visualisation of tags and their inferred relationships as a data layer atop an organisations data inside a visualisation tool I am involved with developing - Centruflow.

    You can learn more about Centruflow at The website doesn't really discuss this topic in much detail, as we are still waiting for a company that can see the value in their employees being able to tag data with their own implicit tags. The tagging functionality is rather cool - very mathmatical behind the scenes but from a users perspective it is simple but powerful.

    Jonathan Giles

  2. Top stuff Jonathan, I'll check it out v soon


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