Tagging Choice as Expression of Distance

Does our choice of the words we use to tag concepts reflect our inner context?

How does our choice of words in a folksonomy demonstrate our world view?

In New Emergent Tagging Practice, Ton Zjilstra writes:

The way I look at other people’s tags is how their use of different words than mine for the same things is an expression of socio-professional distance. Others likely will be using their own jargon for things, and the more different that is, the more likely you are part of a different community than the circles I operate in. This lets me use tags as a pivot to find other people and communities of interest and connected to my own current interest

Ton goes on to note that “the other” might be his own past or future self:

With the new tagging practice, adding tags to a note over time based on how/why I found that note will allow me to see how my own language evolves. This leads I think to a similar measure of socio-professional distance, but now between my past, current and future selves


  • what research is there into how choice of language is sensitive to context, education and experience (rabbit hole!)
  • are there any studies that show how use of language changes over a lifetime?
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My interests include technology, personal knowledge management, social change