Social search (a Euro IA theme)

This could also be called ‘social find­abil­i­ty’ (with apolo­gies to Peter Morville). A lot of stuff has been said about both the dan­gers and virtues of tag­ging and their result­ing bot­tom-up infor­ma­tion archi­tec­tures (aka folk­sonomies). IAs have been work­ing hard to come up with prac­ti­cal ways of merg­ing these with tra­di­tion­al tax­onomies, to vary­ing degrees of suc­cess. An Ital­ian del­e­ga­tion showed off a cool demo of a facetted tag­ging appli­ca­tion (Fac­eTag) joined with some sol­id aca­d­e­m­ic the­o­ry (as far as I could tell). The BBC pre­sent­ed a poster on their way of slow­ly includ­ing tags into their con­trolled vocab­u­lary using a com­bi­na­tion of algo­rithms and old-fash­ioned human labour. These all point to the emer­gence of archi­tec­tures that actu­al­ly apply the con­cept of IA pace lay­er­ing intro­duced by Morville in his lat­est book. I’m sure we’ll see more of these in future.

Besides har­ness­ing the pow­er of mas­sive online ama­teur librar­i­an­ship (MOAL), anoth­er hybrid that should be fur­ther inves­ti­gat­ed is the one result­ing from com­bin­ing social net­works with search. There wasn’t much talk about this (Peter Morville briefly men­tioned it in his keynote) but it’s def­i­nite­ly in the air. Social search has been exper­i­ment­ed with in the web 2.0 are­na, but I get the feel­ing not many IAs have been involved in the effort up till now. Most cur­rent endeav­ours feel like whiz-bang tech demos. Where’s the first use­ful and usable social search engine?

Speak­ers on social search dur­ing the sum­mit: Peter Morville, Andrea Resmi­ni, Emanuele Quintarel­li, Luca Rosati and Karen Loas­by (poster).

This is the sec­ond post on themes spot­ted dur­ing the Euro IA Sum­mit 2006. The first post was on strat­e­gy. Oth­er posts will be on process & deliv­er­ables, involv­ing the client and acces­si­bil­i­ty. My first post-sum­mit post can be found here.

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Kars Alfrink

Kars is a designer, researcher and educator focused on emerging technologies, social progress and the built environment.

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