Gmail’s labeling: why not free tagging?

I really love Google’s mail service, Gmail. I use it as my e-mail service; there is no doubt it provides a lot of interesting features we cannot find within other e-mail platforms, i.e. an integrated search engine.

But I have a complaint on its labeling system, since it is not as friendly as I would like. Its labeling system is somehow analogous to a categorization system where folders are used, and is so far from a free tagging system like Delicious. Before including a message in any label, it is necessary to create it, unlike with tagging. Additionally, a list of labels is available on the left (or right, if you configure it) bar. This list could become unmanageable as it grows!

I would prefer to be able to add any existing or non-existing tag to a message, in order to ease its subsequent retrieval. If I only have a message or 2 messages for a topic/idea, I will not create a label for it, but I would possibly add the tag if I could. On the other hand, Gmail could show a tag cloud. It would be interesting!

I would like to know: why not a free tagging system for Gmail? Hope to see it soon :-)

Update (April 9, 2010): Google added a ‘nested labeling’ approach, confirming that it is very similar to a folder-based system.

Is there any difference among Gmail’s ‘nested labels’ and a classical folder-based e-mail organization? The only difference seems that classical systems usually limit including e-mails into just one folder, whereas Gmail’s labels allow multi-foldered organization.


Category: social-tagging

Tags: , ,

- February 23, 2009

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