Social tagging: A new perspective on textual 'aboutness'

Andrew Kehoe, Matt Gee

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Society is increasingly dependent on digital information. Much of this is available online free of charge but metadata is at a premium. This has encouraged the emergence of a new online phenomenon known as social (or collaborative) tagging. The predominant social tagging site is Delicious, which allows users to assign keywords (or ?tags?) to their bookmarks (favourite web pages) to describe their content. These tags are then shared with other users, who can search the collection by tag. However, many of the linguistic problems which exist in traditional keyword search remain. Most research on tagging to date has been conducted by information scientists, but this paper describes new work which is examining social tagging from a corpus linguistic perspective. Our discussion compares the new, text-external aboutness indicators offered by social tagging with text-internal aboutness indicators. We illustrate how we are using this multi-layered approach to aboutness both to make better sense of the existing social tagging and to suggest guidelines for better tagging practice. Our work aims to reconcile the worlds of formal textual analysis and intuition.


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