Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Tagging Goes Semantic With Zigtag

Bookmarking and tagging websites can be a messy business. Zigtag,
a new sidebar-based plugin currently in private beta, is looking to
offer clean and streamlined bookmarking and tagging. The plugin
differentiates itself from the multitude of other tagging services by
introducing a semantic dictionary of over two million tags. The basic
idea: each tag will be defined, and that synonymous tags (say, New York
City and Big Apple) will be linked together automatically. That should
make finding your bookmarks easier later on.

After entering an appropriate tag for a page, the user is presented
with a list of matching keywords, each of which has been defined in
Zigtag’s database. For example, after entering “Apple” into the search
field, I was able to choose from “the computer company”, “the pomaceous
fruit”, and “the record company”, among others. The process is painless
and the integrated dictionary is fairly comprehensive. If you happen to
stumble across a term that isn’t defined, you can easily request to
have it added to the dictionary (and can place your own temporary tag).

Besides the tagging functionality, Zigtag also offers a Digg-like
thumbs up/down system, which influences a list of popular bookmarked
sites on the Zigtag homepage. The site also has some basic social
networking features, allowing for group-specific privacy settings and
sharing with friends. There are a number of other handy features,
including “Share Page” that lets you send snippets of images and text
on a page to friends through email.

My experience with Zigtag was promising, but the plugin still needs
some work. Using the sidebar can be pretty unintuitive, especially when
you’re searching for something using multiple tags. And many of the
synonyms I tried weren’t in the database yet (No mention of Bruce
Springsteen for “The Boss”).

Zigtag’s biggest obstacle is the slew of other social bookmarking sites already available (Delicious, Diigo, and Twine,
to name a few). The semantic tagging feature is fairly unique, but its
appeal is still untested, especially against automated semantic taggers
like Twine. Frankly, a lot of people are just going to stick with the
simple but effective Delicious interface.

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