Archive for the ‘minority’ category

Strategies for Tagging in Multiple Languages

February 26, 2006

Tara asks (via Scoble): why do we tag?  Bernie has explained that tagging is aggregating, and I’ve looked it as a way of getting a handle on “the wisdom of crowds“.

But as I’ve outlined in a comment on Tara’s post, I believe tagging also has a role to play in supporting diversity, niche interests, and minority languages.

Put simply: a traditional media organisation which is considering featuring minority interest material faces two problems:

  • “This isn’t going to interest our audience.”
  • “The people who are interested don’t read/watch/listen to our paper/show.”

 If the content is accessed sequentially, such as in traditional radio and TV, there is a further problem:

  • “Our regular audience will switch while this is on”

Traditional media is constrained by narrow channels: by printing deadlines, logistics, broadcast spectrum.  That’s why you don’t see knitting shows on radio and TV, and yet Yarn Harlot is one of the top rated podcasts.

And it’s also why, in spite of a market for Irish language content (well said Michal), and with the honourable exception of The Irish Times, Irish publishing and broadacasting is confined almost exclusively to a ghetto of state-subsidised, resource-starved organisations.

Of course, this is one of the reasons some of us are so excited about the possibilities of the new technology.  (You can hear me go on – at length 😉 about this in a two part interview Seámas Ó Neachtain is podcasting this week at Cumann Carad na Gaeilge)  Blogging and podcasting certainly overcome the narrow sequential constraints of traditional channels.  Now we can find an audience for anything, and we can all access any content we want and consume it whenever, wherever, however we please.  But how do we find it?

Tagging offers an advantage over traditional search in that the content has been specifically tagged by the producer as being relevant to a particular subject, as opposed to the possibly random occurrence of a keyword.  Unfortunately, popular tags can be targets for spammers, but, ironically, spam avoidance is one area where minority languages have an advantage!

So how should we tag for a minority language community?  Here’s my current strategy:

  • Pretty much everything gets the tag “gaeilge”, whether it’s in Irish, or about the language.
  • I’m also using “irishblogs”.  Some Irish bloggers consider that a special tag and use it as a catch-all aggregator of national blogging.  Naturally, posts in the both national languages should be included!
  • After that, the rule is simple:  I use tags in Irish for content in Irish and tags in English for content in English.  There’s no point tagging something “computing” if most English speakers can’t read it.  Conversely, using tags such as “ríomhaireacht” encourages tagging, as well as watching of tags, in the Irish language.   But that’s not all.   “Ríomhaireacht” is more than just a translation of the word “computing”.  “Ríomhaireacht” implies: “computing, as viewed by Irish speakers”, and that unique intersection is elegantly encapsulated in a single tag.
  • The exception?  Pictures.  I write my titles and descriptions in Irish, and so I use the “gaeilge” tag on flickr.  But the pictures have meaning which transcends language, so the rest of the tags are done with an international audience in mind, in English.

What do you think?

Related Links from An tImeall:
#85: So, Should I Blog in English?
#88: Réiteach?