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untologies and my first (Flickr) group-forming experience

aka the story of the new 'lenstagged' tag on Flickr and why I hope it will spread across Flickr

There have been a couple discussions (at least) on how to tag your photos with the lens that you used to take the shot. For example, I've been using a Canon 70-200mm f/4L USM lens to take most of my photos nowadays, and, if I could come up with a good tag, people looking to buy that lens or wanting to compare photos could search for that tag and see various photos. I've started using canon70200f4, which you can browse at http://flickr.com/photos/tags/canon70200f4, but if you follow the link you'll see no one else is using it (yet) -- the stock rebel lens has a better following (canon1855f3556).

This discussion hits upon some classic ontology problems:

  1. Is 'canon70200f4' the right tag, or should I use 'canon70200f4L', 'canon70200f4Lusm', or 'canonef70200f4Lusm' (or any combination inbetween)?

  2. How do new users, unfamiliar with the fact that there have been various discussions, discover what the 'right' tag to use for their photos is?

  3. How does the community maintain and evolve this 'standard', especially as new lenses are introduced that may conflict with the pre-existing ontology (i.e. if Canon introduces a new 70-200mm lens).

Brief aside: some of you have heard me rant about ontologies, about how I hate them, how I think they are an anathema to most software design and use... these are some of those reasons

I threw my hat into the ring with the following comment:

My assumption is that people probably won't standardize on these tags (hard for new users to know where to even find a proper list). Given this assumption, it might help if there were an additional tag, e.g. "lenstagged", that would be applied to any image that uses a lens tags. That way, in the future, the "Related Tags" feature of Flickr could help:

1) find the most popular usage (by going to flickr.com/photos/tags/lenstagged and looking at "Related Tags")

2) figure out that canon70200f4 and canon70200f4L and canon70200f4Lusm are probably all the same tag.

i.e. there's no freakin' way that people will ever standarize, but Flickr's Related Tag feature is a really great technological solution for searching and reconciling the misaligned ontologies.

The response to this proposal for this new tag was positive (11 practitioners so far), and one user even suggested that a group be started as a forum for hosting future lens tagging discussions.

So, I now present my first-ever Flickr group:

"Len Tagged"

Another user and I have started various discussions topics centering on a particular lens, posting which tag we are currently using to identify it. Other users can go to those entries to find out what tags other people are using and contribute their own usage. This provides a forum for us to argue/debate, but the best part is that we don't have to ever agree -- I can keep using my canon70200f4 tag even if everyone else thinks canonef70200f4Lusm is better, but if enough people following the discussion tag some photos with both, then Flickr's Related Tags feature should find both usages.

I hope that the lenstagged tag and group will grow in size and use, partly out of vain well-wishes for my "first group," but mostly because, as a convention (not a standard), I think that lens taggers will benefit from its use.

Comments (2)

I would sugest rether then a lens tag, allowing to search exim data. Flikr already supports exif tags you just need a search method.

kwc:

The EXIF standard does not include a field for the lens that was used, and while there are extensions to the standard that include this info (which Canon uses), they are not encoded in a human-readable format.

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