sxsw: eric meyer on emergent semantics (Liz Lawley)

Quoting from sxsw: eric meyer on emergent semantics (Liz Lawley), I noticed that her notes on Eric Meyer’s session bear directly on the tagging discussion we’re having in the solipsism panel now:

He talks about microformats for solving specific problems, generally expressing a human-understandable semantic definition using xhtml markup (e.g. rel=nofollow). Then he uses the example of colleges paving well-worn walkways (“pave the cow paths”). Acknowledges that there’s an opposing view, but dismisses it as wrong. But I’m not sure that “herd mentality” always derives the best possible answer. (It’s not hard to find examples to support my concerns in current politics…) I think he should acknowledge that there’s a need for deriving patterns from trusted networks, not just global populations.

The specific examples he provides include not only nofollow, but also CC license link annotation, and XHTML Friends Network (XFN) “metrolling,” Technorati “VoteLinks,” and hCard.

I’m baffled by the lack of discussion of folksonomy in the context of emergent semantics. That’s genuinely emergent, as opposed to the examples being provided here. Most of these strike me not as emergent, but top-down, created and implemented by a relatively small group of people; the fact that they’re not coming from a standards organization doesn’t make them any less deterministic.

Why the emphasis on “met” — this strikes me as a not particularly useful thing. And it prioritizes geographic proximity and, to a large extent, wealth. If you can’t afford to travel to conferences, you become excluded from the “met” network, and marginalized if that becomes a significant factor in trust.

Ah… a brief reference to what he’s calling “free tagging,” but goes back to Technorati, saying that rel=”tag” provides a necessary definition of tagging. But why should Technorati be defining meaning in this space? Again, that’s the antithesis of emergence.

An audience member asks about how to make large collections more accessible (like library books). This is exactly where free tagging makes so much sense, but he goes back to seeing this as a format construction issue.