There’s a fundamental law of web & application design: users will only click buttons that offer a clear payoff for themselves. No matter how much you as the designer want them to interact with something, or how amazing you think the interaction is, busy users will only do those things that deliver value for them.
With that in mind, tagging has always fascinated me. Systems that get tagging right are able to deliver to the user individual payoff. Examples of this are tagged photos in flickr that provide context and discoverability, tags in iPhoto that make it easier to find that great photo of your kid on vacation and tags in Pinboard to help organize your many digital bookmarks.
As an application designer, if you are able to tap into those individual motivations for tagging, and if your application is at some reasonable level of scale, some really interesting things can emerge. Imagine the effort to get hundreds of thousands of people to add metadata about Chelsea FC or a particular article? This rich set of contextual information emerges “for free” by leveraging the individual’s motivations.
Tagging and Media in Kindling
We’ve spent a lot of time this year building into Kindling support for media of all types, from pictures of whiteboards, to videos taken on phones or produced professionally. We’ve also focused on tapping into the individual motivations that allow tagging to proliferate — people can tag themselves with skills and interests to inform their profile and drive better recommendations as well as tag content to add context and make their ideas more easily found and tracked.