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Tagging the Long Tails of the Digerati

Barron's

03.28.2005

PC FORUM, ESTHER DYSON’S ANNUAL GATHERING of the tech elite, unfolds like a cushy summer camp for the digerati. Every March, several hundred of the most plugged-in people on Earth convene in the warm Arizona sun for several days of intense schmoozing, drinking and networking, all the while comparing notes on the state of the industry and jockeying for position in the eternal search for the next big thing.

While there are some presentations by new companies, PC Forum is better known as the place to hear tech biggies trying to focus on the big issues — this year’s theme was “the World Wide World”…

Tagging is not a foolproof way to search. A lively session on the subject included a detailed debate on what to do about place names like Glendale — search for Glendale on Yahoo! Maps and it asks you to choose from a list of Glendales in 37 states. Nonetheless, tagging offers a useful way for individuals to make it easier for other people to find the stuff their posting on the ‘Net. And tagging opens even further possibilities: a new site called Mappr, for instance, allows you to map the results of a search on Flickr. Search for, say “lighthouses,” and you get a U.S. map showing all the pictures on the site tagged with both “lighthouse” and a place name. Expect to hear enough about tagging in the coming months to start a new drinking game.