In retrospect, I can’t figure out for the life in me why I didn’t mention Facetag during my talk at the Web 2.0 Expo in Berlin. I had plenty of time, and it’s something I cover in Designing Web Navigation. That and maybe some other more forward-looking ideas would have rounded out an otherwise (perhaps too?) practical talk.

Facetag is a working prototype of an application that mixes normal tagging with the power of facets. My friends from Italy developed it: Andrea Resmini, Emanuele Quintarelli, and Luca Rosati. With a little bit of additional effort, tags can be aligned with facets while tagging a web resource. Later, these facets allow you to filter the resources in different ways. It’s pretty straightforward, but very powerful at the same time.

The interesting thing for me is that I proposed a similar idea at the first German IA Conference in Frankfurt in 2005 refering to del.icio.us, which at the time had a sinlge flat list of tags. Not that I want to downplay Andrea, Emanuele, and Luca’s achievment–I’m far too incapable of actually getting such a project going–, but it does show the potential universal appeal of Facetag. I’ve heard of others who had similar ideas. The Lazy Web at work!

One thing that I called for back then were facets of intrinsic metadata: primarily date saved and domain name, but also things like domain extension. Facetag doesn’t have this (yet–or at least it didn’t when I asked them about it in Berlin in 2006). The thought is that you could potentially get a lot of mileage out of intrinsic metadata because users wouldn’t have to do anything extra while entering tags. So, if you bookmark lots of things from, say, Boxes and Arrows you could then zoom in on just links from http://www.boxesandarrows.com, and then potentially pick a certain date range or filter by another tag.


About Jim Kalbach

Head of Customer Experience at MURAL

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