I just visited a new Web 2.0 photo sharing site and saw a front page list of things you can do such with high up on the list: “Tag your photos!” Gee, is tagging that high up on people’s wish lists? I just spent some time organising the 750 or so (physical) photos we took while in South America (digital versions on Flickr) – it was a fun job and brought back recent memories as I sat cross-legged on our lounge floor.

Organising them on Flickr was as simple as putting them into albums (“sets”) for different parts of our trip. I started by bulk tagging photos (“South America”, “Peru”, …) but gave up quickly. I realised I wasn’t going to need those tags – I was just going to jump to an album and look through the set of photos until I found the one I wanted. Besides, I took about 80 photos of Machu Picchu (oops!) and they’d all be tagged the same. I’d need to look at them to figure out the exact one I wanted. In a sense, the albums were acting as my tags, I didn’t need anything further.

Tagging can be incredibly useful (e.g. for delicious) but often the tags slow me down from what I’m wanting to be doing – like one of those sign-up forms where I have to enter in lots of information before joining. If there’s no future value in the tags – or I can’t imagine one, I’m not interested in tagging them. Ok, so maybe I won’t have many people discovering my photos by accident on Flickr, but that’s not what they’re there for.

I just hope Web 2.0 applications don’t get caught up in tagging (because someone said it’s cool) and focus on features people need, problems which need solutions.

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