Read What Happened to Tagging? by Alexandra SamuelAlexandra Samuel (JSTOR Daily)
Fourteen years ago, a dozen geeks gathered around our dining table for Tagsgiving dinner. No, that’s not a typo. In 2005, my husband and I celebrated Thanksgiving as “Tagsgiving,” in honor of the web technology that had given birth to our online community development shop. I invited our guests...
It almost sounds like Dr. Samuel could be looking for the IndieWeb community, but just hasn’t run across it yet. Since she’s writing about tags, I can’t help but mischievously snitch tagging it to her, though I’ll do so only in hopes that it might make the internet all the better for it.

Tagging systems were “folksonomies:” chaotic, self-organizing categorization schemes that grew from the bottom up.

There’s something that just feels so wrong in this article about old school tagging and the blogosphere that has a pullquote meant to encourage one to Tweet the quote.
–December 04, 2019 at 11:03AM

I literally couldn’t remember when I’d last looked at my RSS subscriptions.
On the surface, that might seem like a win: Instead of painstakingly curating my own incoming news, I can effortlessly find an endless supply of interesting, worthwhile content that the algorithm finds for me. The problem, of course, is that the algorithm isn’t neutral: It’s the embodiment of Facebook and Twitter’s technology, data analysis, and most crucial, business model. By relying on the algorithm, instead of on tags and RSS, I’m letting an army of web developers, business strategists, data scientists, and advertisers determine what gets my attention. I’m leaving myself vulnerable to misinformation, and manipulation, and giving up my power of self-determination.

–December 04, 2019 at 11:34AM

You might connect with someone who regularly used the same tags that you did, but that was because they shared your interests, not because they had X thousand followers.

An important and sadly underutilized means of discovery. –December 04, 2019 at 11:35AM

I find it interesting that Alexandra’s Twitter display name is while the top of her own website has the apparent title @AlexandraSamuel. I don’t think I’ve seen a crossing up of those two sorts of identities before though it has become more common for people to use their own website name as their Twitter name. Greg McVerry is another example of this.

Thanks to Jeremy Cherfas[1] and Aaron Davis[2] for the links to this piece. I suspect that Dr. Samuel will appreciate that we’re talking about this piece using our own websites and tagging them with our own crazy taxonomies. I’m feeling nostalgic now for the old Technorati…

Published by

Chris Aldrich

I'm a biomedical and electrical engineer with interests in information theory, complexity, evolution, genetics, signal processing, IndieWeb, theoretical mathematics, and big history. I'm also a talent manager-producer-publisher in the entertainment industry with expertise in representation, distribution, finance, production, content delivery, and new media.

10 thoughts on “”

    1. Chris Aldrich says:

      I too get the same bad taste at the words “distributed social networking”. Things like Mastodon are nice, but they generally rely on everyone running the same software or monoculture programming that are usually controlled by one or two people or a small group of people. This dramatically hampers innovation and participation. In Mastodon’s case I’ve also seen large multi-person servers go down and take peoples’ data and online identities with them, which isn’t good either. But when one can use HTML, CSS, and maybe some basic JavaScript and let two people have a two way conversation between a WordPress install and Twitter, in our example here, or from one website using Drupal and another on a wholly different website running something like Perch, Hugo, or Jekyll, then there’s a far greater power there. As someone with an older blogosphere perspective, you might frame IndieWeb as what things would look like now if we’d kept publishing on our own websites instead of moving all of our attention to Twitter and Facebook.

      While there are still some acknowledged technical barriers to participating fully on the IndieWeb, the walls are quickly coming down and the accessibility and finesse of the user interface presented to the average person is increasing dramatically. Currently is a good, inexpensive, IndieWeb-as-a-service platform with the ability to use Micropub apps, cross-site @mentions, and even some of the new Microsub readers.

      I’d love to hear your thoughts when you’ve had a chance to take a peek.

      Syndicated copies:

      1. oh my goodness, thank you for taking the time to prod so that I actually HAD A LOOK and got my mind around on this a little more. SO COOL. But here’s my question (and forgive me for using you as a human doc instead of doing my homework): What about stuff that’s not blogworthy?

        I mean, a ton of what I post is too short, random and/or goofy to be something I’d want to post on my blog. Don’t believe me? Scroll down my Twitter feed – or more to the point, check out my Facebook musings: And the friends-only stuff is WAY goofier.

        Then there is the even more crucial challenge: How do I direct this stuff to the specific communities I care about? A huge proportion of my time on Facebook is within special needs parenting communities, so unless I’m posting and engaging there, I can’t get the feedback I need.

        …and now I see that this is @T’s baby! I feel like he and I had some parenthetical convo on FB/YXYY that I now think must have been related to this. But I could be mis-remembering.

        What’s interesting to me, looking at the POSSE page, is that it’s dude-tastic. I’ve been mulling on this around wikitribune to. My hypothesis is that social networks offer very different value to women, so we can’t “fix” social networking without thinking about gender & usage.

        My prime use case for FB is a case in point: It’s essential to my work as a special needs parent. I know a lot of non-special needs moms who are just as reliant on FB to support their parenting work, informationally, logistically and emotionally.

        The closed structure of FB groups is what makes them valuable for many kinds of emotional or family labor. And I’ve yet to see a model of “open” networking that supports that kind of work effectively. I’d love to find one.

        Syndicated copies:

        1. Chris Aldrich says:

          I’m happy to help be a human doc as there can be a lot to unpack in reframing how we use the web for social. And you’ve got some great questions, comments, and observations.

          While there are lots of options, for the “non-blogworthy” stuff, you can go back and use those tags that started our conversation. You can still keep your old “blog”/articles page with your longer form content separate if you wish, and have separate spaces for your notes, likes, favorites, listens, watches, etc. into one or more other views/feeds. My homepage at is a good example of this and has links to a variety of views that slices and dices many of the options. I’ve got separate versions for most, but also have a few aggregate versions for things like a “microblog” or “linkblog”, which, for example, includes my reads, bookmarks, likes, follows, etc. in a larger view/feed. For only the silliest of reasons I actually have a “chicken feed” (with RSS naturally) on my site–and I think it may serve as a perfect example of the type of functionality you may be asking about here. Jeremy Keith’s site and Aaron Parecki’s sites also have some solid examples. Try comparing Aaron’s main page with his “All” page.

          For the community specific portions, the best IndieWeb-specific solutions I’ve seen for this are IndieWeb News and which are Hacker News or Reddit-like sites that aggregate content from a variety of individuals’ websites. To post something to it you simply add the URL of the aggregation hub to your post and send it a webmention. The hub then verifies the post on your site and posts it as an update. Those who are reading/following that community’s hub can then respond to you using their own website and sending @mentions directly to you. These sorts of syndication/aggregation hubs can then serve as communities around one or more topics or tags, but everyone has the opportunity to own their own content. The IndieWeb News site used to have up/down voting as an additional piece of functionality, so that becomes a UI/feature possibility as well. While IndieWeb News is a single topic aggregation hub (with multiple languages), has a variety of categories/topics and can easily be extended by creating a new post and syndicating to it with any tag you please. IndieWeb News is also open source if you want to tinker with it.

          The harder problem you’ve touched on is also the idea of closed or private groups. I suspect that we’ll crack this issue eventually and there have already been some experiments with topics like audience , private posts, and private @mentions. With the recent changes at and other group/member-related sites, there has been some renewed IndieWeb interest in these areas. The more people looking at and working in these areas obviously further spurs along the research and potential workable solutions.

          I’ll agree with you that IndieWeb has many cis-gendered males, but despite its technology focus, it also has what I perceive to be a larger than typical number of participants who are women, POC, LGBTQ, and other marginalized groups as well as a11y-related designers and thinkers. You’re completely correct that we need to design whatever the next system is around protecting “the least of us” from bullying, targeting, and attacks to make it work for all. As a group we’ve been doing what we can to iterate on these issues and a broader diversity of participants obviously helps to know what to design for and guard against. You’ll find that the wiki has some documentation on many of these issues already, but could certainly stand to be improved.

          Of course, don’t take just my word for it, ask Tantek for help, or for that matter, anyone in the always-welcoming chat. If you can, I highly recommend attending an IndieWebCamp (there’s one coming up in San Francisco, which I suspect will have some reasonable remote attendance options) for a crash course/introduction. Since your site appears to be WordPress-based, I can also direct you to many of my own collection of IndieWeb experiments/articles over the past few years.

          Let me know if you have additional questions.

          Syndicated copies:

  1. Wow, this is so fascinating and tempting and helpful, especially since I’ve been mulling the idea of a personal web presence restructuring. It also feels quite magical that my long and only somewhat coherent Twitter thread magically got converted into a single comment here. I will definitely give some thought to whether in hell this could become part of my online existence, and gosh, yes I am very tempted to just hop on a plane and join you in San Francisco this weekend, but I’m afraid that’s not realistic. I’ll keep my eyes open for another opportunity.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *