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Federal government technology managers have been weighing the merits of tagging content with metadata, and whether such metadata will be of value in the future.

To Internet users who regularly tag content for Del.icio.us, Technorati, or Yahoo! My Web, the question isn’t why tag but why not? But to the government, the jury is still out on tagging’s place for content, a GCN article observed.

Being government, they prefer to use the phrase “adding metadata” rather than calling it tagging, as manager responded to requests for information from the Office of Management and Budget and the General Services Administration. GCN said those agencies asked if metadata tags for documents were necessary.

The response may best be summed up as “maybe.” 56 percent of those responding didn’t think tagging was necessary. They believe the continuous increase in computing power used by search engines negates any benefit gained by adding tags, since the search engines will only get more powerful over time.

Those who felt tagging should be part of the content made available for search. SEW’s Chris Sherman commented in the article as to how tagging could be effective for government use:

“Metadata can improve search, if it’s done using a structured vocabulary by trained experts,” said Chris Sherman, associate editor for the Search Engine Watch Web site. “We’re seeing computers increasingly be able to do categorization automatically, rather than relying on human taxonomies.”


FirstGov search operator Vivisimo, which created the Clusty metasearch engine, noted that metadata would be “nice to have” in the report, but has drawbacks. “Taxonomy building and metadata generation is expensive and laborious,” said Raul Valdes-Perez, Vivisimo chief executive officer.


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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

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