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Nov 08, 2005: The Memetic Web

Peter Morville already beat me to it, so I won't re-hash Bob Doyle's concept of the Memetic Web here. I do think there's promise in tagging a document with metadata that's both unique and meaningful, especially in closed sites like intranets, where abuses are likely to be minimized, and using vocabularies made up of unique IDs, like zip codes and ISBNs (more descriptive metadata will be a hassle).

I'm not sure that users will be comfortable or, for that matter, able to express their queries in a syntax ((here's one for zip codes: "MEMOZIP-02138-6707") that is intended to be more computer-readable than human-readable. There may be exceptions of course; if, for example, I'm looking for information on a specific book, it'd be pretty handy to learn how to plug a ISBN into Bob's memetic syntax. But all in all, it'll be difficult to achieve a critical mass of memetically-motivated users to justify content producers' investments in tagging their content using Bob's scheme.

Where I think this would be more useful, as I've suggested to Bob, is to introduce to concept to search engine vendors. They can teach their systems to recognize memetic tags ("oh, the user searched on the zip code '02138-6707'; let's add meme tag 'MEMOZIP-02138-6707' to their query before we execute it"). If a few vendors support the Memetic Web as Bob is proposing, there might be enough incentive for content producers to start tagging their content this way. And motivated users will follow...

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