A walk in Marin County with Howard Rheingold and his dog resulted in an invitation to present Trustmojo at a FutureCommons meeting at Institute For The Future. One of the topics we discussed during- and after our talk was the role of tags in trustbuilding. In the talk I showed how I discovered researchers on del.icio.us and judged them by their tagclouds.
As we develop a literacy for tagclouds, they let us peek inside a person’s mind. We get more out of these clouds than just an idea of a person’s reading- and classifying habits. Tagclouds are inspiring. They contain hints. Those hints get our minds going.
My del.icio.us feed is just one facet of my online identity. Tags then, could be though of as facets of this facet. On one interpretation, the most common tags in my cloud show what community I belong to, whereas the tail of niche tags convey my distinct identity. Fred Stutzman (Founder of ClaimID) seems to have browsed a lot of tagclouds recently. He argues that “[people's] tagclouds shows [him] more about them than [he] ever gets from a homepage, blog or social network profile”. He also talks about “reading” del.icio.us tagclouds:
At the top will be [a person's] “internet identity”, more or less. You might see a ton of clustered links to programming websites, or business/marketing blog posts, and so on. As you scale down the tagcloud, and you get into the tags that are used 1 or 2 or 3 times, you start to notice different things. You may see links to a sports team in which the person participates, or a small cluster of links to a hobby or a charity. You might see travel information, or a link to a church or family member’s webpage. As the explorer, you have to explicate what is what, but I’ve found it becomes quite easy to do this as you do it over and over.
Just before our talk, Marc Dangeard, who was attending the meeting, happened to give me his business card. Incidentally, he had his del.icio.us tagcloud printed on the back of the card.
Perhaps the most important reason to give someone your business card is to convey trustworthiness. Trust research show that openness has a strong connection to trustworthiness. Tagclouds let us take a peek inside someone’s mind. Seen in this light, putting your tagcloud on your business card makes perfect sense.