Thursday, September 29, 2005

Why tagging is better than categorization

I just came across a brilliant piece of writing that explains why tagging is so much better than categorization. The beauty of the analysis that I found is that even the average Joe can understand it. Clearly articulating why tagging is better than categorization is not easy but Rashmi, the author of the article, has done a really nice job.

Here are a few of the key takeaways from the article:

"In the digital world, we don't just categorize an object, we also optimize its future findability. We need to consider not just the most likely category, but also where we are most likely to look for the item at the time of finding. These two questions might lead to conflicting answers, and complicate the categorization process."

This could not be any more true and is very fundamental to the way that we have developed BlinkList. The "Tag Manager" and starring of "favorite" links on BlinkList was specifically designed and optimized for future findability. Jiangti, our lead developer was brilliant enough to recognize the shortcomings of other filing systems and was instrumental in helping us develop a new unique approach.

"In my opinion, tagging eliminates the decision - (choosing the right category), and takes away the analysis-paralysis stage for most people. (Note that some people might still freeze up in deciding between different tags, or figuring out ways to optimize future findability. These are valid concerns that tagging systems can address better than they do now)."

Again, this is a key insight. Forcing people to group things into one and only one category is not natural and not how the mind works. When you first find a site, it triggers many different mental concepts and tagging takes the pain away because it does not force users to find the "single best category." Often there is not even such a thing as a "best category." Secondly, using an auto-suggestion script we can also recommend the most appropriate tags to people, which further reduces the analysis-paralysis" stage for most people.

While some users have some trouble at first, I would strongly recommend to stick with it, give it a try, and in a few days you will see the light!

To read the full "Cognitive analysis of tagging" click on the clink. Rashmi, thanks for helping out in making tagging easier to comprehend and to explain.

Mike
Blink It

Monday, September 26, 2005

Comment spam

Interesting, I just got the first comment spam on this blog. Either the blog is becoming more popular, or the last blog post "what a wonderful day" somehow invited some spam since I got these comments very quickly.

So, now I have had to turn on the word verification. Too bad there is too many bad guys out there trying to ruin something that was working perfectly well. Hopefully we can keep BlinkList clean without having to resort to some kind of spam filters, etc. Time will tell but will probably need the help of the community to keep the bad guys off our sites.

Mike
Blink It

What a wonderful day!




I just wanted to say that I am fired up today! I have not been this excited in a long time. Ok, if you know me, then you know that I am almost always high energy and very excited about the things we are working on. :-)

However, today I am hitting a high note. We keep getting emails from customers thanking us about "keeping it human" and that we really care! We do and thanks for noticing and for acknowleding that we are here to serve you, our community of BlinkList users.

In addition, I am super excited because it looks like we are gaining speed. The changes and improvements we are about to release are going to be pretty major and are just the beginning.

However, it is also important to keep things fun. We are definitely having a great time so far. Here is a pick of a party a few weeks ago.

This weekend we are going off to a tropical island for a little team building and bonding!
Blink It

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Discovering new fun and important web sites just got easier

We added a small but nifty little feature to BlinkList today. One of the things you can do on BlinkList is star (*) your favorite links. However, in the past, when you checked out another user account, you could not see his favorite links under a given tag. Well, that has just changed.

Now, when you are browsing on BlinkList's public tags or checking out another user, you will always see a star (*) in front of a link if any user (in the public view) or the user you are checking out, has starred a link.

How does this make BlinkList better?

Very easy, go to: "Public Ajax Links"

Now, as you browse through the most recent links, you can immediately see what links people find important enough to star via the yellow star. The same counts for other users. Whant to know my favorite links, just go to:

Mike's Tech Blogs

Now, instead of just seeing my most recent links under tech blogs, you first see which links I have starred (i.e. which tech blogs are my favorites). That makes it much easier for you to see what sites I deem important for a given tag. Such a simple little star has tremendous impact in helping users identify relevant and interesting content!

So, while this is a relatively small change, it really makes browsing on BlinkList much more enjoyable. I have to thank Garold, one of our power users for this awesome suggestions! Keep the ideas coming so we can keep making BlinkList better and better.

Mike

Blink It

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Cream of the crop social bookmarking site

Digital Tech Life Says:

"BlinkList - Cream of The Crop"

"After using BlinkList and importing all my bookmarks, I have to say that this is definitely one of the top social bookmarking sites today, if not the best. It's fast, reliable, and it has so many options that make it a service that everyone can probably find a use for.

The only drawbacks that I can see are that they are fairly new and don't have the number of users like del.icio.us. The more users, the more interesting links and more info under tags.

Hopefully, more people will catch on to this great addition to the social bookmarking world."


Wow, this review is certainly exciting and we are always very happy when new users are so passionate that they spend the time writing a detailed review of what BlinkList has to offer. Click here to check out the full review before going to BlinkList.

Digital Tech Life >> Cream of the Crop Social Bookmarking Site

If having a small community of users is our only handicap and you have made it this far, please start spreading the message about BlinkList to all your friends so that our service becomes more useful as our community grows. Happy Blinking!

Mike

Blink It

Friday, September 09, 2005

Smart Tag Cloud - Use it as a Search Filter

In case you did not know, BlinkList offers a very smart tag cloud. Initially, I thought that the tag cloud on BlinkList was largely there for fun. In other words, I can click on "My Cloud" to see a tag cloud of all of my tags on BlinkList.

That is cool, however, not really all that useful. At the same time, one of the things that I have always wanted is the ability to further drill down into my bookmarks. In other words, if I am looking for the tag "social bookmarking," I would love to also be able to see all of the other relevant related tags that I have been using. We have long offered this on the public page.

However, in case you did not know, we also offer this on the users page. This is where our tag cloud comes to the rescue. Once you are looking at any given tag, just click on "My Cloud" and you will see all other tags that are related. This really adds a lot of value and helps tremendously if you are looking for something but only vaguely remembered where we have been bookmarking it.

Mike

PS: We have offered this for quite some time and I did not know. Hmm... if I did not know, then there is probably lots of users that did not know either. Will try to make this more obvious in the UI. ;-)

Blink It

Thursday, September 08, 2005

eBay rumored to be buying Skype

I am sure you all have heard about the latest rumor that eBay might be buying Skype. If you ask me, it makes perfect sense.

eBay = person to person global ecommerce leader
Kijiji = person to person local classifieds leader
PayPal = person to person payments leader
Skype = person to person communications leader

All markets, segments share the same characteristics:

- Person to person
- Driven by viral, world of mouth marketing
- Sustianed by network effects and switching costs
- Winner take all / most of the market

However, the price tag that is being rumored appears a bit high. Time will tell if this is a brilliant or a dumb move. However, I am loving it!

Mike

Blink It

Monday, September 05, 2005

The Top 10 Social Bookmarking Tags - one big surprise

I just dug through our BlinkList data to find out the top 10 tags on our site and wanted to share them with you.

Here is the top 10 list:

1) software
2) blog
3) programming
4) tools
5) to read
6) music
7) design
8) blogs
9) news
10) ajax


I personally think that the "to read" tag is by far the most fascinating because it shows that people love to use BlinkList for storing and quickly retrieving interesting information that they have stumbled upon online and want to get back to shortly.

In addition, people also love to share information that users are blinking. In other words, people are using the blinklist bookmarklet tool to save information and also to share it / send it to other users. In a way, it looks like BlinkList is a powerful tool for social learning and social information sharing.

At the same time, the tagging behavior is also very personal and the vast majority of our tags are unique. This is not surprising since tagging is extremely personal.

Blink It

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Skype adds critical features including call forwarding

Skype just released a new beta that is offering some key updates I have been waiting for, for a long time. The two biggest improvements are call-forwarding and more personalization. As most of you know, I am a big FAN of Skype, so I just had to let you know how excited I am about these enhancements!

Here is the detailed list of new features:

We’re making Skype even better — try the new beta version

* Our call quality is the best ever for talking, laughing and sharing stories.

* It’s now faster to get set up, and easier to add your contacts, so you can get more friends talking for free.

* You can forward calls on to mobiles, landlines and other Skype Names.

* Make calls instantly from Outlook email or Internet Explorer with our new toolbars.

* Personalise your Skype — play around with sounds, ringtones and pictures to show the world who you are.

The call forwarding works even if you are not logged into Skype, which is key!

Mike

Blink It
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