Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Pivoting in Delicious; Litigation KM and Social Tagging

Before I first started using last week (yes I am a connectivity software newbie), I questioned the value of tagging. I thought tagging would merely help me find web sites that I was interested in, and that other people's tags would be of comparatively little interest. Since I was fairly happy with storing web sites I used in the IE "Favorites" list, I didn't really see why I should bother.

Count me in as a convert. The power of site tagging is not simply that it helps me find and logically group my own sites. Since so many people are using it, Delicious also provides access to a very substantial collective intelligence about topics I care about, simply through the happenstance of having tagged web sites with the same or closely comparable words.

But as an incredibly important bonus, the tags not only lead you to the web sites, they also point to the delicious accounts of the people who made them. In other words, tagging has uncovered not just the information, but the people who are interested (and may be working on) the same things that I am working on. You can mine other's delicious pages to see not just the tags that you have in common, but the other words and sites that they think are significant.

The example that educated me was the tag "enterprise2.0."
I had tagged the website for the Enterprise 2.0 Conference that I caught the tail end of last week with the logical tag "Enterprise2.0." When I went back to my delicious site, and clicked on my "enterprise2.0" tag, I saw that I could view others' use of that tag, either the most "Popular" uses or "All" uses.

Delicious cleverly puts these "popular" and "all" tags into readily comprehensible and recreatable URLs, such that you can see the page for the enterprise2.0 tag at and the popular tags for "Enterprise2.0" at

Next to each of the sites listed, Delicious identifies the number of people who have tagged that site (the pink lines).

Each of these pink lines is in turn a hyperlink to the Delicious page devoted to that link or resource (with an indecipherable URL, in this case .

The presentation at this "URL" or "link" page is different; it is now easy to see who has tagged what, and to jump into the user profiles, since the tagger's name is listed beneath their tags and description of the URL, if any. For understandable reasons, however, doubtless having to do with spammers and privacy, you cannot actually contact or reach out to the other Delicious users. I had hoped that there would be some way to direct a comment or reach out in some way to the Delicious users with whom I apparently have a lot of interests in common.

In effect Delicious lets you "pivot" and explore idea categories (tags), those who created them (the users) and the resources themselves (in this case, web links).

Circling back, what does this have to do with litigation knowledge management?

Imagine that a tagging system for documents and URLS is implemented internally at a law firm, such that others in the firm can see what you call another document, can see your tags, and aggregates the tags. It would be significantly easier than it currently is to identify and find:

  1. the documents that people go back to again and again (a/k/a exemplars, forms, models);
  2. what people think documents pertain to (removal, subject-matter jurisdiction, pulp plants);
  3. who is concerned with which issues and trends (Joe Partner in DC, Amy Associate in NY).

I am trying to provide these same resources day after day to the attorneys in my firm, which is possible through my extensive time investment in the available search technologies and databases that my firm offers. With social tagging they wouldn't have to call me, but could take advantage of other's perspectives.

Social tagging has the potential to allow attorneys to add rich context to their work product and search efforts, and to lower the effort required to take advantage of the work of others in the firm.

No comments: