Flickr And Self-Referential Folksonomy

I’ve been thinking a lot about Flickr and tagging recently, having just had to bash a load of tags onto my BarCamp pictures.

Lots of my mates are members, and when we’ve got together for socials, we share the pictures via Flickr afterwards. Many tag the images by subject, or use something like Upcoming‘s machine tags: upcoming:event=138806, which refer to the relevent event tag, and can be used by Upcoming’s API to display photos from that event (held on Flickr), in the event page on Upcoming. “Old hat”, some of you may say.

The other thing that regularly happens is that folks tag pictures with people’s names or nicknames. Thus, you can see all the photos of me on Flickr (which have been appropriately tagged), whether they be in my photostream or someone else’s. But here’s where we get the problems.

Some people have particular tags by which they would like to be known, as well as their normal names. Ben (74 results currently) is a case in point, who also goes by the nickname of Kapowaz (56 results, some of them the same). Mark Norman Francis (390 pics) (aka Norm! – 2,324, not all of them him) thinks he’s King Of The Britons (122). Adding all these tags by hand every time gets very tedious.

Now Flickr is very good at letting you organise your pictures, by set, date of upload, geographical position, etc. Their drag and drop interface is easy enough to get your head round with a bit of practice.

So I was thinking, why not let each Flickr user asign their own tags to describe themselves. Then give the Organiser Panel the facility to set which Flickr users appear in the photo, and that user’s tags then get applied automatically. As long as you know that a person in one of your pictures is a Flickr member, you ought to be able to drag their icon onto a picture to set up the tagging, even if they are not in your friends, family or contact lists (these could easily load by default in the appropriate new “choose Flickr member” panel):

[mockup of the “choose member in photo” facility, via the Organiser panel]

Or when you come cross an individual picture in your Flickrstream, you can currently add it to a group via one of the fuction buttons at the top. Similarly, you could have:

[mockup of the “add member in photo” facility, in the Flickrstream view]

I’m sure that would save some donkey work on everyone’s part, and would be quite interesting to follow the reference tag trails around Flickr until you get dizzy.

Comments anyone?

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