Now Tell the Difference Between Folders and Labels

If you really think about it, there’s not much of a difference.  They are more or less the same.

Folders are a very old metaphor, as old as email and documents are.  Early email systems physically kept folders in separate files, and even when they were no longer separate files, basic functions like sort, search were limited within individual folders.  We got boxed in to physical folders.

The big break away from this, introduced by Gmail’s label concept was flat storage of email with only logical labels – but because labels were no longer physical containers, you could assign any item (email) to multiple folders.

The more traditional “folder-camp” was missing some of the good old attributes: drag-and-drop, nested folders (aka hierarchies)..etc – and lo and behold, little by little they all go it, the final step being the release of nested Gmail folders today.  Now tell me the difference between Folders and Labels.   They are one and the same, Labels are just more flexible Folders.

Actually, and to take this a few steps further, I’ve said before:

All folders are labels, but not all labels are folders.

But of course it’s all semantics … and I don’t want to quote my posts from a year ago … I suggest you read it (yes, shameless self-promo) because in the original post I laid out quite a few concepts for the improvement of folders / labels / tags .. whatever we call them.

I’m glad to see some of those concepts have become reality….

(P.S. Zoho – exclusive sponsors of CloudAve-  have been offering both folders and labels for a while in their Mail service, albeit kept separately.)

(Cross-posted @ CloudAve )


Google Finally Ends the Folder vs. Label War – What’s Next? Find the Answer Here.

Bear with me for this somewhat long post, for I am not only discussing the sweeping changes Gmail made today, but in the end will also tell you what they are going to do next year – or perhaps after that.

Gmail Changes

The Gmail label changes announced today and to be released to accounts slowly (you may not see them yet, I only have them on one account) are ones that I’ve long been waiting for, and that most reviewers seem to underestimate, thinking of them as mere cosmetic or usability changes, i.e. “drag and drop”, “right-side labels retired”..etc.  We can always trust good old Lifehacker to call it what it is: Gmail Gives Labels the Folder Treatment.

Folders vs. Labels

Because they are. Folders, that is. Just very few people realize that.  The Folders vs. Labels debate is older than the tenancy debates we discussed recently, with two deeply religious camps (apologies for the extreme characterization):

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Jiglu: Smarter (?) Contextual Tagging

Since I’ve just advocated context, context and context fro social networking, I figure I might as well try Jiglu, being launched today, which promises to auto-tag our blogs in context.

Blognation & CenterNetworks both warmly praise the new service, and Venturebeat provides detailed analysis:

Jiglu, by comparison, uses semantic search technology to take tagging a step further, crawling entire websites to tag and categorize according to the relative importance of subjects.

The technology works by first determining important keywords within specific blocks of text, then drawing correlations between keywords in other blocks, assigning scores to keywords or phrases that come up repeatedly to produce a list of important tags. The software works continuously, adjusting its scoring system when new content is introduced…

What I am missing from all these writeups is actual demonstration of Jiglu. Guys, I don’t see your Jiglu widget installed…smile_eyeroll OK, so I’ll be the guinea-pig: it’s installed right here on the sidebar(*), let’s wait and see the results it will soon (?) produce.

Update: further analysis of Jiglu’s business model on TechCrunch.

*Update #2: For now I removed the widget, but only temporarily. It grew a mile long, making it hard to read (too low level of granularity?). CEO Nigel (see comments below) says to check in a few days, so that’s what I’ll do.