Welcome!

Open Source Authors: Sematext Blog , AppDynamics Blog, Liz McMillan, Lori MacVittie, Elizabeth White

Related Topics: Linux, Open Source

Linux: Article

Linux Cover Story — Multidimensional Tagging

Finding information naturally

Multidimensional tagging, a key component in social sharing sites, can potentially help enterprises manage large stores of information. In this article, I'll examine the ways that multidimensional tagging will be implemented using Open Source tools.

As storage costs have continued to decrease, organizations create and retain more information. It is easy - and useful - to keep information online, just in case it's needed. The challenge has become managing information not simply storing it. Structured systems, such as relational database management systems (RDBMS), have well-developed tools for indexing, locating, and retrieving information. Unfortunately not all information fits well into structured systems. Graphics, presentations, spreadsheets, and word processor documents have all proliferated, no longer bound by storage costs. This is especially true of desktop systems where 200GB hard drives are common.

Finding exactly the information needed at the right moment has become difficult. A typical desktop drive has tens of thousands of files. A file server or NAS device could easily have hundreds of thousands or even millions of files. Even if system files and applications are discounted, that's still a lot of files to wade through.

File Systems and Search Engines Provide Some Relief
File systems impose a certain degree of order on unstructured information. By allowing information to be placed in hierarchical directories, file systems group files that share some relationship into meaningful categories. The downside to categorization using a file system is complexity for the user. The user is forced to descend through more and more layers of directories to find what he wants. Just remembering where the correct directory is becomes a chore. Information organization via the file system becomes less useful when information is spread across an enterprise. Incompatible systems, individual ways of building directory structures, and shear scale make this a difficult way to manage information assets across an organization, even a small one.

Search engines provide some respite from our information organizational woes. By indexing keywords and storing references to their source in a database, it's possible to look quickly through all the available files. The vendors of searching engine technology, drawing from vast experience in indexing hundreds of millions of Web sites, provide tools that let users find information spread across a huge number of desktop disks and enterprise storage systems.

Tagging Provides Necessary Clues
The trouble with the typical search engine is that the user must first know what he's looking for. He has to have some idea what keywords are indexed for a particular piece of information. If the indexed words don't match the words that a user thinks apply to the information, then the search engine won't find what the user is looking for. A marketing brochure, for example, may not have any words in it that say "marketing brochure" but that's how the user thinks of it. The way the information is categorized in the users head doesn't always match the strict keyword index of the engine.

This has already become something of a problem for Web sites that allow users to share large amounts of information. Cues are needed to help visitors who come to a site find what interests them without knowing the exact nature of the content. In typical Internet fashion an organic solution has arisen called multidimensional tagging, labeling, social tagging, folksonomy, or just simply tagging. It's multidimensional because a single piece of information can have many different tags, reflecting the different dimensions that users apply to it. Tagging lets users assign a set of categories to a piece of information when they create it. The tag system, also known as the tag cloud, grows as people use the information and see relationships in it that the original author might have missed. Users categorize information according to how they view the information, which makes it useful for groups of people who don't always think alike, such as engineers and marketing people.

Tagging is a key feature in social sharing sites such as Yahoo's del.icio.us and Flickr as well as You Tube, and Userscripts.org. Whether it's sharing interesting Web pages, photos, video, or Greasemonkey scripts, all of these sites rely on user categorization. Without tagging, no one would find anything of interest and the site would fail. Unlike simple storage sites (such as Yahoo Photos and Yahoo Briefcase), they require a way of presenting information to users that lets them find it quickly. Users can find information even when they're not really sure what they want. Social sites don't abandon search engines. Instead they integrate searching with tagging to provide a breadth of information retrieval options. Most let users search the tag cloud as well as scanned keywords, providing a rich search environment.

Tagging: New to the Enterprise
Tagging technology for the enterprise environment is new and not widely deployed in products. That's unfortunate. Not only is it extremely useful for finding information, it's also a natural way to do it. This is especially true for people used to social sharing sites. The tagging methodology facilitates the efficient sharing of information across many users and a large file space. It's exactly what enterprises need to make best use of the great stores of unstructured information on their corporate networks.

There are three ways that tagging is being implemented in corporate environments: integrated into applications; as a part of a standalone information management system; and, eventually, as a file system feature. The first kind of implementation is readily available. Image management systems, even ones directed at the desktop environment like Google's Picasa, include tagging as a core feature. The next version of the Thunderbird e-mail client (version 2.0) is expected to include e-mail tagging, augmenting its current search capabilities. Of course, once users get used to tagging for managing certain types of information, they will wonder why they can't use it for all the information that they need to access. They'll expect tag clouds that span all kinds of information in the enterprise.

Tagging is also being implemented in targeted information management tools. Tools for searching large stores of information in a corporate network are still at an early stage but tagging should be expected to make an appearance in information management and search engine tools in the near future. Consider this, Yahoo uses tagging in Flickr and del.icio.us as well as the upcoming My Web 2.0. Is it a stretch to expect it to implement tagging in the corporate search arena? The same is true for Google, which uses tagging on its eBlogger site, GMail Web-based mail service, and Picasa image management tool.

Finally, tagging can be expected to become a feature of the file system and operating system. Some aspects of tagging already exist in operating systems. The ability to attach keywords to files in Microsoft Windows is an example of file system-level tagging. These keywords are currently read by Microsoft's desktop search engine, creating a crude multidimensional tagging feature. Of course, entering and displaying tags is clunky and tags can't be displayed in and of themselves, rendering it more of a hack than a real feature. It does, however, point the way to future features of the operating system. Fully integrated into an operating system as normal metadata and using standard visual cues such those used on social sites, tagging will become a typical part of most corporate environments.

Tools Exist, File System Hooks Don't
The tools for corporate tagging capabilities already exist in the Open Source community. Most of it is encapsulated in the tools used by social bookmarking sites, which are often based on the LAMP stack. They're typically written in common scripting languages, such as Perl or Python, or Java. One such Open Source tool is unalog. Ostensibly a social bookmarking system, it's written in Python and the source is readily available on SourceForge. While the core tools exist, the hooks into the file system are still mostly missing.

A somewhat different but innovative approach is evident with Flickrfs or the Flickr File System. Based on FUSE, it creates a virtual file system with tagging for the Flickr digital photo management service. A fusion of file system and service, Flickrfs lets Linux users access the Flickr service as if it were any other mounted Linux file system. Photos can be accessed through the same tags available on Flickr using standard Linux commands such as cp. Flickrfs represents another way that tagging may come to information management - as a specific application or service but integrated into the normal file system.

Conclusion
Multidimensional tagging provides an opportunity to let users manage information more in line with their natural way of thinking. By sharing tags across the enterprise, users will spend less time looking for information and more time making use of it. Unlike other collaborative systems, users do all the work without legions of editors making decisions that users find mystifying. The social sites on the Internet have shown this to be a viable information management model. It's a matter of how and when, not if, these features become available to the corporate enterprise.

References

More Stories By Tom Petrocelli

Tom Petrocelli, president of Technology Alignment Partners, is a veteran of over 21 years in the technology arena. His background encompasses software engineering, marketing, IT, sales, marketing, and general management. He has worked in various industries including defense, digital signal processing, call center/CRM, networking, and data storage and storage networking. Tom is also the author of a new book entitled Data Protection and Information Lifecycle Management, published by Prentice Hall.

Comments (1) View Comments

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


Most Recent Comments
Linux News Desk 05/21/06 09:33:34 AM EDT

Multidimensional tagging, a key component in social sharing sites, can potentially help enterprises manage large stores of information. In this article, I'll examine the ways that multidimensional tagging will be implemented using Open Source tools.

@ThingsExpo Stories
The Internet of Things is not new. Historically, smart businesses have used its basic concept of leveraging data to drive better decision making and have capitalized on those insights to realize additional revenue opportunities. So, what has changed to make the Internet of Things one of the hottest topics in tech? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Gray, Director, Embedded and Internet of Things, discussed the underlying factors that are driving the economics of intelligent systems. Discover how hardware commoditization, the ubiquitous nature of connectivity, and the emergence of Big Data a...
"BSQUARE is in the business of selling software solutions for smart connected devices. It's obvious that IoT has moved from being a technology to being a fundamental part of business, and in the last 18 months people have said let's figure out how to do it and let's put some focus on it, " explained Dave Wagstaff, VP & Chief Architect, at BSQUARE Corporation, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The major cloud platforms defy a simple, side-by-side analysis. Each of the major IaaS public-cloud platforms offers their own unique strengths and functionality. Options for on-site private cloud are diverse as well, and must be designed and deployed while taking existing legacy architecture and infrastructure into account. Then the reality is that most enterprises are embarking on a hybrid cloud strategy and programs. In this Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo (http://www.CloudComputingExpo.com), moderated by Ashar Baig, Research Director, Cloud, at Gigaom Research, Nate Gordon, Director of T...
SYS-CON Events announced today that IDenticard will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. IDenticard™ is the security division of Brady Corp (NYSE: BRC), a $1.5 billion manufacturer of identification products. We have small-company values with the strength and stability of a major corporation. IDenticard offers local sales, support and service to our customers across the United States and Canada. Our partner network encompasses some 300 of the world's leading systems integrators and security s...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Windstream, a leading provider of advanced network and cloud communications, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Windstream (Nasdaq: WIN), a FORTUNE 500 and S&P 500 company, is a leading provider of advanced network communications, including cloud computing and managed services, to businesses nationwide. The company also offers broadband, phone and digital TV services to consumers primarily in rural areas.

ARMONK, N.Y., Nov. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --  IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that it is bringing a greater level of control, security and flexibility to cloud-based application development and delivery with a single-tenant version of Bluemix, IBM's platform-as-a-service. The new platform enables developers to build ap...

The BPM world is going through some evolution or changes where traditional business process management solutions really have nowhere to go in terms of development of the road map. In this demo at 15th Cloud Expo, Kyle Hansen, Director of Professional Services at AgilePoint, shows AgilePoint’s unique approach to dealing with this market circumstance by developing a rapid application composition or development framework.
“In the past year we've seen a lot of stabilization of WebRTC. You can now use it in production with a far greater degree of certainty. A lot of the real developments in the past year have been in things like the data channel, which will enable a whole new type of application," explained Peter Dunkley, Technical Director at Acision, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
DevOps Summit 2015 New York, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that it is now accepting Keynote Proposals. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long development cycles that produce software that is obsolete at launch. DevOps may be disruptive, but it is essential.
"People are a lot more knowledgeable about APIs now. There are two types of people who work with APIs - IT people who want to use APIs for something internal and the product managers who want to do something outside APIs for people to connect to them," explained Roberto Medrano, Executive Vice President at SOA Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Nigeria has the largest economy in Africa, at more than US$500 billion, and ranks 23rd in the world. A recent re-evaluation of Nigeria's true economic size doubled the previous estimate, and brought it well ahead of South Africa, which is a member (unlike Nigeria) of the G20 club for political as well as economic reasons. Nigeria's economy can be said to be quite diverse from one point of view, but heavily dependent on oil and gas at the same time. Oil and natural gas account for about 15% of Nigera's overall economy, but traditionally represent more than 90% of the country's exports and as...
The Internet of Things is a misnomer. That implies that everything is on the Internet, and that simply should not be - especially for things that are blurring the line between medical devices that stimulate like a pacemaker and quantified self-sensors like a pedometer or pulse tracker. The mesh of things that we manage must be segmented into zones of trust for sensing data, transmitting data, receiving command and control administrative changes, and peer-to-peer mesh messaging. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Ryan Bagnulo, Solution Architect / Software Engineer at SOA Software, focused on desi...
"At our booth we are showing how to provide trust in the Internet of Things. Trust is where everything starts to become secure and trustworthy. Now with the scaling of the Internet of Things it becomes an interesting question – I've heard numbers from 200 billion devices next year up to a trillion in the next 10 to 15 years," explained Johannes Lintzen, Vice President of Sales at Utimaco, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"For over 25 years we have been working with a lot of enterprise customers and we have seen how companies create applications. And now that we have moved to cloud computing, mobile, social and the Internet of Things, we see that the market needs a new way of creating applications," stated Jesse Shiah, CEO, President and Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 15th Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Gridstore™, the leader in hyper-converged infrastructure purpose-built to optimize Microsoft workloads, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Gridstore™ is the leader in hyper-converged infrastructure purpose-built for Microsoft workloads and designed to accelerate applications in virtualized environments. Gridstore’s hyper-converged infrastructure is the industry’s first all flash version of HyperConverged Appliances that include both compute and storag...
Today’s enterprise is being driven by disruptive competitive and human capital requirements to provide enterprise application access through not only desktops, but also mobile devices. To retrofit existing programs across all these devices using traditional programming methods is very costly and time consuming – often prohibitively so. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jesse Shiah, CEO, President, and Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., discussed how you can create applications that run on all mobile devices as well as laptops and desktops using a visual drag-and-drop application – and eForms-buildi...
We certainly live in interesting technological times. And no more interesting than the current competing IoT standards for connectivity. Various standards bodies, approaches, and ecosystems are vying for mindshare and positioning for a competitive edge. It is clear that when the dust settles, we will have new protocols, evolved protocols, that will change the way we interact with devices and infrastructure. We will also have evolved web protocols, like HTTP/2, that will be changing the very core of our infrastructures. At the same time, we have old approaches made new again like micro-services...
Code Halos - aka "digital fingerprints" - are the key organizing principle to understand a) how dumb things become smart and b) how to monetize this dynamic. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robert Brown, AVP, Center for the Future of Work at Cognizant Technology Solutions, outlined research, analysis and recommendations from his recently published book on this phenomena on the way leading edge organizations like GE and Disney are unlocking the Internet of Things opportunity and what steps your organization should be taking to position itself for the next platform of digital competition.
The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
As the Internet of Things unfolds, mobile and wearable devices are blurring the line between physical and digital, integrating ever more closely with our interests, our routines, our daily lives. Contextual computing and smart, sensor-equipped spaces bring the potential to walk through a world that recognizes us and responds accordingly. We become continuous transmitters and receivers of data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Andrew Bolwell, Director of Innovation for HP's Printing and Personal Systems Group, discussed how key attributes of mobile technology – touch input, sensors, social, and ...