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Monday, March 28, 2005

Tag Synonyms

Dave Weinberger talks about Folksonomies (tagging photos, web pages etc.), and the problem of how tags aren’t controlled; thus, the one person may use the tag “beach” while the other may use “shore.”

I could imagine one simple solution to this: let the same collaborative filter that works for tagging be applied to finding synonyms. There must only be a mechanism in tagging software which allows people to say “beach is synonymous to shore”. This is not a clear true-or-false situation, which is why one would take the percentage of people saying “A is a synonym of B” to determine the synonym strength. This strength could then be used to adjust the system’s output.

Let’s give an example. I subscribe to various RSS feeds serving content for the tag “google”. If a majority of taggers would now decide that “googling” is 70% of “google”, and “search” is 20% of “google”, then in my RSS feed I would now also get a random 7 of 10 items which were tagged with “googling”, and 2 of 10 items which were tagged “search”.

Because people may strengthen synonym relationships of popular words out of proportion, one might need to be able to vote for antonyms as well to create a balance. In semi-random intervals, one would need to ask taggers if two randomly selected words are related or not. This may even be an application for CHI...


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