Most blog systems support tags these days. Put simply, tags are just words that can be used to create informal groups of posts. Tags aren’t as rigidly defined as categories, and so a ramble that covers many topics can have many tags. The purpose of the tags is to allow folks like you to find similar stuff. Since moving to WordPress I’ve started to pay more attention to tags, and at the bottom of each episode you can find a link or three to episodes with similar tags. It’s kind of cool, and it’s search-engine friendly.
Now I have added a widget to the sidebar that provides a ‘tag cloud’ — a list of the tags with the most-used tags in larger font. (I think this is a misuse of ‘cloud’, which in this context is also supposed to show relationships. A true cloud would group tags by how often they are used together.) There are much fancier tag cloud widgets out there, but I was starting to spend way too much time investigating the options. I settled on a nice, simple, colorful widget which is over there now. It’s called “ILW Colorful Tag Cloud” (or something like that). There are a few aesthetic tweaks I’d like to make, like condensing the text, but that shouldn’t be too much trouble.
The widgit’s all right, but the colors are arbitrarily set by me. It would be cool if the colors actually meant something. Since the number of times a tag is used is already represented in the font size, color could be used to show relationships or (better yet) indicate how many times a tag has been clicked. That way the tags more people found interesting would be highlighted.
Another minor problem with the tag cloud as it stands is that most of the 1200 episodes I created with my old blog system have no tags. I’ve gone back to retrofit tags on a few obvious ones, but overall most of this blog is untagged.
But no, not today. No widget modifications, and no more tag retrofitting. I’ve already spent far too much time on this silly feature.