Tag Galaxy

I came across this tagging visualisation project Tag Galaxy on the flowingdata blog. It is the 2008 thesis project of Steven Wood. I love this idea and have really enjoyed playing about with it. You enter a tag, I started with beach (i’m not at all completely focussed on my upcoming holiday), then you are presented with a solar system, with your tag being the sun, and co-occurring tags represented by planets orbiting the main tag sun. Clicking on a planet (related tag) gives a new visualisation this time for a refined search with the two tags. The more tags assigned to the central sun, the more specific the search results. This is an excellent feature as it utilises the capability of filtering results and finding a photo that accurately matches what you want to see. Here is a visualisation I created from the tag beach.

tag galaxy screengrab

Clicking on the sun takes you to a new visualisation showing images tagged with your tag combination.

tag galaxy screengrab

Then if you click on an image it enlarges the image and provides a link to the flickr profile.

tag galaxy screengrab

The planets appear to be clustered but I’m not sure by what metric, at first look it seems by semantics, but either it isn’t accurate, or distribution is random. Another subtle aspect that is more apparent when looking at a solar system for a sun of multiple tags is that the planets’ sizes vary depending on the amount of photos labelled with that tag. I think an improvement would be to exaggerate this feature slightly so it was more obvious on single tag visualisations.

It has a nice touch of being able to be full screen too, a useful feature when zooming in and out of your solar system and making it spin around – which provides hours of fun on its own!

Brand Tags

Gene Smith blogged recently about a tagging game http://www.brandtags.net/. It’s been around since about May. It’s not really a game there’s not a lot to it, tag a brand with the first thing that comes to mind and then see what other people think about it. Not so surprisingly the resulting tag cloud shows I think the same as the majority most of the time. What I like about the tag cloud is that the tag size is weighted completely by frequency so the higher ranking tags are absolutely massive and it works, for this site, you only want to know at the end of the day what the majority think. The usability could be better as I want to see the tag cloud of the brand I have just tagged before I go on to tag another brand, or I’d like to be given a list of the brands I’ve tagged so far so I can go and click back and see other peoples opinions later on. But it’s a work in progress as the creator Noah Briar states on his blog.

The most interesting thing about this is the most useful thing about it, looking at peoples opinions of different brands, there’s some companies who I think would rather they hadn’t looked. In all it’s a very cheap focus group.

Its sister site http://celebtags.com/index.php which just doesn’t have enough celebrities on to be mean about, is entertaining for about a second just to see the most insults one person can collect.

All a bit too American, understandably, but it would be nice to see a few more British brands in there. There’s some obvious British insults in the celeb tag data so there’s proof we’re looking at it.

In all well worth spending a few minutes on when you’re meant to be doing something more productive.

Embracing Procrastination

I’m trying a new form of procrastination, something i don’t do all that often, blog posting.  Instead of randomly wasting time looking at websites mildly related to what i’m working on, checking my rss feeds for the tenth time, seeing if anyones done anything interesting on facebook, checking my email, making my fifth cup of tea, looked at solutions to being distracted and avoiding procrastination – once i ventured on to myspace i knew i was getting desperate.

I am really pushed for time, my PhD presentation has to be written by tonight i need all the time i can to plan what i’m going to say and talk through it, but instead of being focussed and breaking down what’s left to do, i’m writing a blog.

This is the reason i refuse to use twitter, i’d spend more of my day updating it with mundane facts about myself and my day that nobody cares about than doing any work.  Web 2.0, what is it good for except giving people excuses not to work.  Brilliant if you, like me are researching it, then any web 2.0 esq procrastination is actually work related -fantastic.

But i won’t be doing it for much longer if i don’t get back to presentation writing – arrghhhh!!!

Cognitive Level, Semantic Distance and Power Laws.

My brain hurts from reading around the subject of Cognitive Linguistics, power laws and Semantic Distance and trying to work out clearly in my mind how they are connected. In doing so i can better explain what I mean by improving quality of tags for video through VideoTag and make understood what I perceive to be a higher quality tag.

So here goes:

There are three cognitive levels of tags Superordinate, Basic and Subordinate. Basic level tags have the least cognitive cost to the user – that is they are thought of more quickly. They are more likely to have a high frequency as there is more likely to be agreement on Basic Level tags. Superordinate and subordinate have a higher cognitive cost. In relation to collaborative tagging – superordinate level is difficult to assess. It is most likely that the superordinate tag for videos is video and all basic and subordinate level tags then continue to categorise the video. When tagging a music video for instance, basic level tags may refer to musical genre e.g. rock, indie, dance but the tag music would also be a basic level tag rather than being a superordinate tag that defines the overall category for tags, because it defines the genre of the video.  Subordinate level tags on the other may reference the band name, more specific musical genres e.g. Techno, trance, emo, grunge, britpop etc. They may also name band members, cameo roles by celebrities in the video. characters in the video, define the narrative of the video and any specific actions. Keywords taken from the song lyrics would also be classed as subordinate level tags.

The tag cloud below is of My Chemical Romance’s tags on Last.fm – chosen because they have 2 of the most watched videos on YouTube. You Tube tags – my chemical romance famous last words (whilst I would categorise these tags as subordinate level based on the above definition, they also highlight how inadequate YouTube tags are at describing the videos.)

my chemical romance last.fm tag cloud

This helps to explain the power law of tags. Tags in the larger font (e.g. emo, rock, alternative) are basic level tags. Tags with smaller font are of subordinate level. In this instance the superordinate tag would be music, but as it is a music site all tags contained with in fall under the umbrella of the music superordinate tag. On a power law graph, the high frequency basic level tags would have high rank, the subordinate level low frequency tags will have low rank and appear in the long tail.

The 80/20 rule can be applied here, agreement of terms can be measured as being 20% based on the frequency of basic level tags. This leaves 80% of tags at subordinate level that describe the resource but may only be of relevance to a few users. In terms of building rich descriptions of video, these subordinate level tags are imperative as they go into more descriptive detail, have greater specificity and can provide a fuller picture as to what the video is about.

As for semantic distance – I have only recently started to read up on this so I am not 100% in my mind of the connection. I think that subordinate level tags are more likely to be semantically narrow because they are related by the basic level tag they are elaborating, making the basic level tags semantically broad.

So what is a high quality tag? In terms of improving descriptions of videos it is a tag of subordinate cognitive level, low rank and low frequency and is semantically narrow. It is worth mentioning though that subordinate level tags are only useful when placed in context with the basic level tag they are adding extra description too. So VideoTag needs to encourage both sets of tags to be useful as a tool to improve accessibility and search of video.

Why selecting videos for VideoTag is not as easy as you’d think.

I am warming up to working today – actually I’ve already written some notes and it’s only 10.00, so I thought I deserved a break. I have realised I have been neglecting the blogosphere and so subscribed to feeds from some of the most respected web2.0 blogs. Anyway looking at readwriteweb I saw this article, top 10 youtube videos of all time, which I found interesting as it’s written at the time when I had spent a month searching out videos for VideoTag and knew pretty much every popular video on there.

It sums up why I gave up on rss feeds to provide videos for VideoTag and why I cannot see a way that any version of the game would work synced directly to the YouTube api. The most watched/highly rated/most favourited videos are mostly music videos that are not going to benefit from the extra descriptions that tagging can provide as much as the amateur videos.

6 months on and the top 10 most watched of all time hasn’t really changed

  1. Evolution of Dance

  2. Avril Lavigne – Girlfriend

  3. Lo que tú Quieras Oír

  4. IMVU – http://www.IMVU.com

  5. Timbaland – Apologize – Official Music Video

  6. My Chemical Romance – Teenagers

  7. My Chemical Romance – Famous Last Words

  8. Timbaland – The Way I Are OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO

  9. Akon – “Don’t Matter”

  10. CANSEI DE SER SEXY – Music is My Hot Hot Sex

laughing baby has slipped to number 14.

Trying to harness people power and doing it successfully maybe proving people really will watch anything is some video about Britney Spears in a bikini. They want to be the most watched worst video of all time. Their intentions seem honourable, trying to rid the top 10 videos of music videos, but i couldn’t bring myself to watch anything about Britney once never mind 100 times a day.

And for the record, maybe it’s a British thing, but I didn’t even think the most watched video was that funny.

MySpace Developer Platform

It had been an idea of mine to try and create a Facebook app, maybe try and create a content tagging game of sorts, but Facebook is saturated by applications and well honestly, it’s one of the many things I just probably won’t get around to doing. But I was interested to see that MySpace have launched their developer platform using Google’s Open Social technology. MySpace is more open than Facebook, profiles can be viewed by anyone unless users actively make their profiles more private, so it opens up more scope for applications that use all the social data available.



As a tagging enthusiast I’ve been thinking it’s something missing from MySpace. In Web 2.0, social networks and tagging go hand in hand. I was thinking about what apps might be possible maybe something to do with the music section, tagging bands. But then I came up with the same old problem of why would anyone bother to do it?



I started thinking about why users use MySpace and I think rather than Facebooks uses of keeping in touch with friends, MySpace is much more about showing off and self promotion. Also attracting new friends and meeting people. This ties in well with tagging motivations, with the main motivations for tagging being to refind information or self promote. It would be good to build a tool that would allow users to tag their friends, tag new MySpace profiles/blogs they find and also to tag themselves. Whilst this would hopefully be of use to users, it would also be useful to researchers. An app of this sort would generate a lot of useful data about the types of tags users use and also what they like to tag. Would more users tag themselves as self promotion, bands they like or use it to organise their friends?



I think I want to change my PhD application and do this instead!


Connecting a laptop to the TV with S-Video

How did anyone solve problems before they invented Google? Given, most problems I’m trying to solve are based in and around computing so there’s more info out there. I’m always pleased to stumble upon a useful forum, discovering that lots of other people have exactly the same problem as me and some more knowledgeable folk have offered solutions. Sometimes they don’t work and then there’s the occasion that you find really useful fixes…like this one…


I have bought myself a shiny new laptop and was looking forward to hooking it up to the TV, make the most of my broadband connection, all I need is an s-video lead I thought. But no the picture was black and white. Apparently this is a very common problem something to do with using a scart adapter as my tv doesn’t have an s-video in so only the luminance signal was being carried to through the scart and the chrominance signal which carries the colour wasn’t getting to the TV.



Then, thanks to Google I followed a link on this forum

to this website http://camp0s.altervista.org/sVideo/sVideo.htm

and I now have a colour picture on my TV – yey! I was put off by the idea of butchering my scart adapter, then thought well it only cost a couple of quid it’s worth a try. My husband volunteered his soldering skills as I don’t have a clue.


I just wanted to post a recommendation for this solution. It really does work – sometimes you try fixes on forums and still have the same problems but this did work. OK you do need or know someone with a toolbox and soldering kit. Husbands come in useful sometimes!


I’ve got quite knowledgeable about cables since buying my laptop – I set up my first wireless network so my PC and laptop can communicate (I learned the benefits of Ethernet compared to USB – thanks virgin media for the dodgy installation!). I also worked out that by utilising the lead for my video camera I can get sound from my laptop on the TV too! I’m nearly ready for my Saturday job at Maplin or other good cable retailer.


So no tagging research recently but i know a lot more about wireless networks and cables.