Great Article on Zigtag / Update on Future Plans

Zigtag got a great writeup from one of our users, Paul Haley, on his blog.  Not only does the article describe the differences between Zigtag’s semantic tagging system vs. Twine‘s, but it also talks about online collaboration with groups, and data portability.

Given that Paul had some questions he raised in the article, I thought I’d respond to some of them here.

Paul mentioned that he was slightly cautious about using Zigtag or Twine because of the lack of a semantic export mechanism (it is important to note that we do export to del.icio.us and other formats, and a semantic export is not supported at this time because, well, there are no other applications that can read Zigtag’s semantic data and actually do anything with it).  The short term development plan includes releasing an API allowing users to access Zigtag’s semantic ontology and much of the data that we are gathering. This will include a similar API to delicious’, which will allow you to get information on your bookmarks, tags, groups, etc., and it will also allow access to our ontology (or our extensive database of defined tags).   Whether or not the API will use OWL as its format is to be decided, but if there is a market demand for OWL export, we will be happy to provide that.

One of our goals with the API is to allow other applications to be able to tag semantically.  There are literally thousands of applications out there that are using tags to organize their data, but nobody is using tags semantically.   For any number of applications with a large set of tags or information, categorizing semantically not only has the potential to organize that data much better, but it also allows the that data to interface with other applications using the same set of semantic tags, allowing increased interoperability and visibility.  One application we are contemplating is allowing blog writers to tag their wordpress blogs with semantic tags.  We are also open to gathering feedback from our user base – does anyone else have any cool ideas of things they’d like to see implemented?

On a related note, our users are always asking “Can I add my own defined tags?”.  In the coming weeks, we will also be providing a way for users to add, edit, and delete defined tags.  Initially, this will be limited to certain trusted users, but eventually the plan will be to expand it into a Wikipedia-like community process, where everyone can edit the definitions or add new ones.  We’re extremely excited about this as it will allow our semantic database and our users’ tagged data to be as accurate and inclusive as possible.

In short, we’re trying really hard to produce a powerful next-generation tool to enhance the semantic web.  Please feel free to comment on these ideas or other things you’d like to see.

Defined Tags – Zigtag makes tags semantic Part 2 of 2

There’s another really important aspect of using defined semantic tags – the fact that there is only one definition for a certain idea.  Let me explain this a bit.  Say you find a page on New York City, and you tag it with “New York”. Months later, you go looking for it again – but can’t remember if you tagged it with New York, NY, NYC, or even the Big Apple.  No problem!  With Zigtag, all of these synonyms mean the exact same thing – the idea of New York City.  Zigtag understands that New York and NYC are semantically equivalent. Therefore, you can actually search for that page you tagged “New York”, by any of the synonyms for it.

Above is a screen shot of Zigtag’s “Explore” dialog, where you can retrieve things you’ve tagged.  On the left is the tag you’re searching by, in this case NYC.  On the right are the results.  Notice that the results were actually tagged with “New York”, not NYC, yet Zigtag found them.

This is extremely powerful, and Zigtag is the only bookmarking solution to solve this problem.

It becomes even more powerful when used as a research tool.  On other sites like del.icio.us, if you were looking for restaurants in New York, you would have to search for sites tagged with NY, NYC, New-york, newyork, new_york, etc. and even then you’d probably not find all the things people are tagging about this.  With Zigtag, you’re searching with the idea of “New york”, and everybody understands that idea.

Semantic tagging is also very useful from a personal tagging standpoint.  After all, when you tag, you tag with ideas, not words.  This allows you to tag a page with “Car”, but retrieve it by search for “Automobile”, or tag it with “API”, and search for “application programming interface”. It means you don’t have to remember the exact word you tagged it with – just the idea you think of when you tag it.

So try out Zigtag, and be sure to tag semantically!  If you are already using it, or import your bookmarks from another service, we offer a tag renaming tool so you can convert your normal tags into semantic tags (an article on this is coming soon).