cognitive aggregation of tags ..


Over at forumoxford, Judy Breck whose work I admire expanded on out I am not a number – I am a tag idea

From a purely content angle, there is a fundamental difference between a tag and a number. A tag carries cognitive meaning and a number carries little if any cognitive meaning. The tag “New York” conveys the meaning of the city to most people. The number “212,” assigned as a phone area code to New York, becomes a bit cognitive as it is learned by those who use it, but most numbers do not even convey that much meaning.

With apologies to linguists for over simplifying, the cognitive aggregation function of tags is the use of something that has been happening on the Internet from its beginning – if informally. An early example was the “Hittite Homepage” ( where virtual cognitive material about the ancient Anatolians has been aggregated by its experts since at least the mid-1990s.

It is observable that the cognitive aggregation that makes the Internet so valuable for learning (and for commerce, too) – that this aggregation follows the laws of small world network theory. (My 2004 book “Connectivity” describes that cognitive networking). Informal tags like “Hittite” are the underlying mechanism, seems to me. It would have been pretty hard to aggregate cognitively if the Hittites were designated only as something like #889345.

I realize that at a techical level every address is no more than a number, But the cognitive networking occurs at a virtual level that emerges from the technical level. At the virtual cognitve level numbers are a nuisance. Humans are going to tag webpages regardless of what transmission does. Would it be simpler just to use the tags humans choose for their cognitive appropriateness?

Thanks Judy. We seem to be developing this idea nicely with help from the community