That’s the answer to the question in this entry’s title.
Tags make Bookmarks (“Favorites” in IE) and file names obsolete.
Uh, what are tags?
Tags are… well, tags you assign to files or websites. (Oh, man. Tags–tagging–is so cool, I still geek-out about it.)
Let’s say you have a large collection of websites bookmarked. (You probably do!) How do you organize all those links? You could make folders, for example a “Graphic Design” folder, and put all links to graphic design sites you like in that folder. But what if one of the pages you like could also fit in an “Art” folder? Or a “Creativity” folder? Are you gonna make “Art”, “Creativity”, “Inspiration”, “Color”, “Vector Art”, “Brushes”, “Flash” folders and also put the link in each of those folders? Ha, ha. You’d go insane before you ever finish.
Tags are easier, faster, and more realistic. They are easier: you don’t need to make folders. Just add a tag. Need to find all your “Poetry” bookmarks or files? Click the “Poetry” tag. They are faster: add a tag when you tag the page or when you save the file. Just click on the tag you want to instantly find all related websites or files. They are more realistic, that is, they better represent reality: the world is connected. Things are connected. Things don’t fit in one box (folder) only. It’s about time our technology behaved like technology. Computer technology has required more user effort than the date warrants (it’s 2007, people!). Computers should act advanced. Hierarchical organization is so 20th century. Relational organization is 21st century (yeah, it’s a little late).
Some examples (I use all of ones listed)
An example of tags in use is the fantastic website del.icio.us. You could make a strong argument that del.icio.us popularized the use of tags. Here is my del.icio.us
Another example is the online storage service, box.net This has nearly revolutionized my life. All my files are online–I can access them from any computer. All my files are tagged; I have poetry-related files in several folders (Contemporary Lit., Honors English 9, and Poetry), but with one click, I can see all poetry-related files.
Flickr, the online photo storage/sharing service, is another example.
There are numerous other examples, and tags will soon, no doubt, come to your personal computer. In fact, BeOS (wikipedia entry), created in 1991(!), had a relational database for file management.
Until next time…
Start using del.icio.us and box.net. You’ll get all giddy (and wonder why technology didn’t offer this years ago).