Fascinating post from Matt McAlister on Infoworld’s adoption of tags as navigational aids:
“Today we launched a new design for the article pages on InfoWorld.com. We are going through the site section by section and making upgrades based on the home page redesign we recently launched. But what may seem mostly cosmetic on the outside is actually a significant shift in the way we operate.
What I like most in this new architecture is that the related links are now driven by del.icio.us. Our edit team is tagging content in del.icio.us. The engineers are pulling down the del.icio.us RSS feeds. And then we create matching logic based on the common tags. We also link back out to del.icio.us pages via the tags for the article on display. “
What makes the post really interesting is McAllister’s comments on Infoworld’s existing “old school” taxonomy:
Of course, there’s still a need for structured tagging, and we will continue to tag in ways that enable us to create new sections of the site and to help advertisers optimize their marketing campaigns. We built a lot of functionality into the site that is dependent on tagging in a normalized way that would evaporate if we moved completely to freeform tags.
For example, we have advertisers who want to reach people interested in storage products. There are probably 10 different ways to target storage on the site with different kinds of marketing including contextual targeting, behavioral targeting and lead generation programs. Eliminating a high level structure to our tagging would mean that our freeform tags would have to be incredibly precise at all times.
All good stuff indeed. And something else – there seems to be more and more use of del.icio.us and Flickr and their ilk as the taxonomic juice for websites. I don’t know anything about the Infoworld relationship with del.icio.us, but it does seem like a new kind of service is being provided here. Folksonomic ASP, anyone?