Monday May 21, 2007

Slynkr: Open Source System for Social News, Bookmarking, and Tagging

Slynkr Project Logo

Hello everybody out there reading blogs.sun.com. I'm doing a (free) social news and bookmarking system (just a hobby, won't be big and professional like Digg and del.icio.us). It's been brewing for quite a while now, but I just recently got Sun's okay to release it as an open source project.

I hope it isn't too presumptuous of me to base that intro on another project's announcement, but I think it illustrates what Slynkr is all about: sharing and building on each others' work. When you submit something to a social news or bookmarking system, you almost always start with a URL for content which someone other than you wrote. So you build on their work by adding some kind of summary or commentary and a few keywords (tags). Then others come along and build on your work by adding their own tags and voting on whether they think the underlying item is any good. The more people contribute, the better the system becomes.

Of course, that's very similar to how open source software works. The more people contribute, the better the code becomes. That's what we're hoping to gain by making Slynkr open source. It's a usable system today (as you can see at slynkr.sunwarp.net or www.sdnshare.com), but it certainly has room for improvement. We'd love to have your help and ideas to make those improvements happen.

I certainly haven't created Slynkr by myself. Many people have chipped in with ideas and support. These people have been especially involved:

  • Lou Ordorica: original idea, look & feel, and other follow-up ideas and support
  • Jeff Shoup: co-developed the Slynkr code
  • Erik Larson: conceptual input
  • Todd Wichers: hosting support for our slynkr.sunwarp.net instance

I'd also like to thank the people behind sites like flickr, del.icio.us, and Digg. Their development and popularization of practices such as tagging and user-controlled voting were obviously major influences for us in the development of Slynkr.

Monday Jan 15, 2007

Tagging Formats: Why Not Follow Search's Lead?

Why is there so much argument over the need for a tagging standard? Of course we need a standard. It just doesn't have to be a new one. We have a ready-made standard in existing keyword-to-content systems: search engines.

How is tagging so different than searching? About the only difference I see is that they're done in reverse order. Instead of proposing keywords for a not-yet-found piece of content, tagging applies keywords to content up front. Great. Both are useful. Both are important. And both should share one syntax for keywords.

Since search came first, it gets to set the standard. So if you want to see how tagging should work, just look to Google's search form. It's space-delimited, spaces can exist within quoted items, and quotes can exist within items if they're escaped. There you go--the tagging standard wars are settled. The settlement just happens to predate tagging itself.

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woodjr

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