Tagging for the desktop2007-08-07
There is no doubt in my mind that tagging is going to grow in importance. It will become a dominant element of online search; I was not surprised to see the number of people confounded by changes to Techorati‘s interface, which made it more difficult to search by tag. Microformats will become more pervasive. Social bookmarking will grow in popularity. Tagging content, as you can on sites like Flickr and YouTube will become someething we can take for granted on any site that offers uploads.
So it makes perfect sense that we’re seeing the introduction of products that allow you to carry the tagging concept to your desktop. I’ve been playing with two of them, Taglocity and Attensa, both of which have considerable potential.
Both Taglocity and Attensa are Microsoft Outlook add-ins. Taglocity allows you to tag email messages for discovery later. It includes a tag cloud so you can simply click to your most commonly used tags. Your most commonly-used tags are also available in a toolbar. Several techniques are available to allow you to tag your email as well as to find emails you have tagged.
Outlook 2007 has vastly improved keyword search compared to earlier versions of Outlook, yet I still have found myself using Taglocity to find all the emails I have deliberately tagged a certain way. For example, emails from people discussing various aspects of my podcast don’t always include the name of the show, but tagging these emails “FIR” makes it drop-dead easy to retrieve them.
Taglocity offers a personal edition for free and a professional version for US $39 (there’s a 30-day free trial of the professional edition). The free version is for those who don’t use a lot of email (which wouldn’t include any readers of this blog, I suspect). A video demo does a nice job of explaining the features and how they work. I’ve been using the 30-day free trial, but plan to pony up the $39 once it expires.
Attensa is an Outlook-based RSS reader/aggregator. Since Outlook 2007 already supports RSS feeds, you might wonder why anybody would install an alternative. Not surprisingly, Attensa has done a better job with RSS than Microsoft has. Attensa is feature-rich, offering the ability to read feeds in a “river of news” style for either all your feeds or those within a folder. Any item can be tagged, and you can configure Attensa to automatically add tagged items from you feeds to your del.icio.us bookmarks, which I find to be an incredibly cool and useful feature. Attensa also handles downloads and plays videos and audio, so it can serve as a podcatcher. You can designate that audio and video files automatically get added to iTunes or Windows Media Player and put in an appropriate playlist.
I am running into one problem with Attensa: marking folders as read or deleting all items in a folder can take a long, long time, during which Outlook is unavailable. Version 2.5 is the first to support Vista, though, so I suspect this is a problem Attensa will iron out.
There are video demos that show how the various features work.
Attensa for Outlook is free (Attensa also makes fee-based enterprise RSS products); personalized support is $24.95 per year.