Navigating with Tags


Jon Udell has pointed to a new set of services that InfoWorld is using to help people navigate the information on their Web site. They're beta right now, but Jon expects they'll go live on the main InfoWorld site sometime in the future.

The place to start is with iws and search for something you're interested in. Once you've got results, clicking on any of the tags will limit the search results to just those with those particular tags. This uses the second tool, iwx.

This is a very fast way to narrow in on the relevant articles for a given set of tags. One thing that confused me at first was the fact that tags toggle off and on. Every time you click on a tag, you're conjoining it (logical "and") with the other tags that have already been clicked. Clicking it again removes it from the conjunction. Some way of indicating the toggle in the interface would be nice.

This also makes the iwx tool somewhat confusing if you go to it without doing a search first since what you get is every article and the list only gets narrowed when you start clicking on tags. Of course the tags you want may not be in the first page. Putting a tag cloud on this page at the top would be helpful. Maybe one that could be hidden no needed or as relevant.

One nit: when you've drilled down on some information, it would be nice to be able to back out without unclicking tags one at a time. A "reset" link and maybe even some bread crumbs would be nice for navigating around the tagspace.

If you haven't noticed before, InfoWorld quietly started adding tags to each article some time ago. They're on the right hand side and use del.icio.us. It would be interesting, of course, to really use the folksonomy in this tool so that readers were classifying articles and searchers were benefiting from their work.

Jon and InfoWorld should be commended for trying to move beyond mere search for processing the bulky information that underlies any large Web site. I'm looking forward to seeing what comes of this experiment.