FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Tagging People

Jeff Jarvis at BuzzMachine makes a modest proposal: XML-like tags for people's biographical information, allowing them to interact more fluidly and uniformly in cyberspace. As an example he cites David Gailbraith's one-line bio tag on his blog, as well as the use of Technorati and Flickr tags for blog content.

Evan as he makes this suggestion, Jarvis ponders the consequences of such tagging:

So I started to wonder how I'd be tagged. Would I tag myself? Would the crowd tag me? Would a machine (based on my content and the links to it)? Would it be some Frankensteiny combination?

Would tags go to war with each other? Would the Democrats for whom I'm not conservative enough slap the Republicans for whom I'm too liberal or would it all average out to centrist?

Would the tagee have the right to modify tags (like a credit report) or would that be self-promotion?

In the end, it needs to be a way for people to find people as well as content and comment and communities.

Such thinking has a long way to go -- including whether or not this is even a good idea -- but it provides some insight into how our identities and digital personas might be managed. A tag could conceivably become the Social Security number of the future, providing the foundation for one's identity. The fundamental question, then, concerns control: will we own tags associated with us, or will someone else?

Sources: EMERGIC.org, BuzzMachine