Tagging Comes Out Of The Shadows

    December 21, 2005
    WebProNews Staff

The CEO of Pluck discussed how the newest service, social tagging site Shadows, presents a good experience for its users.

Sometimes this vast world seems a lot smaller. A lot of that comes from social networking, the kind of effort Dave Panos’ company Pluck wants to accomplish with Shadows. Other times it comes from having some geography in common.

Panos wanted to form a new tech company in Lexington, Kentucky, the same place where his successful establishment of Databeam ended up being acquired by none other than global tech power IBM. Lexington, of course, is the home of WebProNews. Instead, Panos departed with great reluctance for Austin, TX, to build his next venture.

That move led to the formation of Pluck Corporation, which developed its eponymous RSS reader. Shadows became the second product to emerge, and it ties in to Panos having always worked in collaborative spaces, dating back to his time at Databeam.

Shadows does collaboration as social networking with tagging. Panos explained how they’ve based Shadows around a search paradigm, but Shadows goes beyond just the tag-and-search method of recent Yahoo acquisition del.icio.us. Panos wryly noted the Yahoo deal removes one of their competitors from the market.

When tagging a page with Shadows, it creates a ‘shadow page’ in the user’s profile. From there, the user can start a discussion about the page, and others can contribute their comments. Hence the collaboration aspect that appeals to Panos.

Over time that collection can grow to hold a number of pages and tags. As more users do so, another aspect of finding information comes into play: discovery.

(We touched on discovery in our interview with IBM’s Marc Andrews, check it out here.)

Discovery hinges on relationships between data. For Shadows it’s the tags, comments, and ratings people create about web pages. The collective users, of which Panos said Shadows has 500,000, build the potential for more effective discovery of information.

To assist those users, Shadows has built more functionality, like its @groups. Groups are tags preceded with the @ symbol. Groups work like a meta-tag, as an umbrella for related web pages tagged by users. Users who tag a page with the @group method show up as members of that group on Shadows.

Shadows has embraced some of the more active concepts in the broader Internet today. They make RSS feeds, bookmarklets, and tag clouds available on the site, APIs open for developers, buttons specifically for users of the very hot MySpace networking site.

Most recently, Shadows released its WordPress plug-in for bloggers. The FAQ noted the plug-in replaces the fixed categories in WordPress with free tags, and bookmarks blog entries automatically to shadows.

Panos hinted that Shadows and Pluck would see some future integration, but nothing definite yet. For anyone who wants to see how Shadows works, a link below this article leads to Shadows, where users can register and try out its bookmarking capabilities.

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