The Value of Social Metadata
Web 2.0 has made content easily available via wikis, blogs, RSS, podcasts, social networks and more. While it's great to have so much content easily available it can be overwhelming. How can I get to relevant content without wasting hours looking for it?
While its only part of the solution, social metadata can help organize and navigate to relevant content. In this context, social metadata is data added to content by people other than the content creator, such as tags, ratings, votes, comments, etc. Examples can be found everywhere on the web; ratings and comments on amazon.com, tagging in digg.com.
In the past accessing data in an enterprise application was controlled by an engineer who developed a predefined path through the application. An example I remember using was to display a list of available content or links to the user. The list could be narrowed by selecting one keyword from a drop down box. Keywords were typically created by the team implementing the system and didn't always represent the way the users would describe the content.
Now, our social applications are taking advantage of social metadata so that a user can dynamically create a navigational link to content. For example, I can tag a presentation that is relevant to me and choose the tags I believe best describe that presentation. The keywords I choose help organize and categorize the content in a way that's meaningful to me. Later I or my colleagues can use those tags to locate data using meaningful keywords.
Using social metadata in a social network with a focused purpose (be it a product, team or region) can help users navigate to relevent content even quicker because members can use social metadata to provide context and relevant description to the content.
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