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Cataloging the Fire Hose: Tagging

Before the last several decades, the creation of knowledge had been comparatively slow and thus stable over a long enough time that we could categorize books in pre-built niches. We knew such categories were often arbitrary as, for example, when a book about history could also be about religion or science. But bibliographies and citations in the books helped us discover perspectives beyond the categories as we created our own mental hyperlinks.

Web 1.0 allowed us to replace mental hyperlinks with digital hyperlinks. Now, Web 2.0 helps us tag knowledge objects on the fly as a kind of personalized -- and variable -- cataloging.

As we look ahead, the semantic Web, or "Web 3.0," is emerging and semantic Web sites help us do the tagging. An example is Twine (, from Radar Networks. Twine is in closed beta, but enough has been learned in testing so far that 30,000 people are on the list for beta release.
Twine is from Radar Networks. Nova Spivack, CEO of Radar Networks, in conversation with Robert Scoble, says that Twine and other semantic Web sites are transforming the Web into a database connecting to data records, not to pages, moving the Web from hypertext to hyperdata. Tim O'Reilly says Web 2.0 and 3.0 is not about software but about accumulating data via network effects.

People can create their own personal "twine" so that each time they look at their twine, they are again placed in the context of their current work and preferences. It seems to us that Twine is externally representing a version of the mind-map we carry in our heads. Maybe the question "How many volumes in the library?" will become "How many twines do the students have?"

About the Author

Trent Batson is the president and CEO of AAEEBL (, serving on behalf of the global electronic portfolio community. He was a tenured English professor before moving to information technology administration in the mid-1980s. Batson has been among the leaders in the field of educational technology for 25 years, the last 10 as an electronic portfolio expert and leader. He has worked at 7 universities but is now full-time president and CEO of AAEEBL. Batson’s ePortfolio: E-mail: [email protected]

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