OS X Mavericks, Tags, OpenMeta and Your Productivity

In my SharpBrains articles, right before and right after the introduction of the iPad® (in Jan 2010), I called for Apple® to support tagging across its ecosystem. I wrote this knowing that tagging has immense potential productivity benefits, as I describe in my book, Cognitive Productivity. I first started developing software to help people learn by using tags in 2002 as lead software person on what soon became the Learning Kit Project at Simon Fraser University. In a blog post last year, I explained some of the benefits of tagging and suggested some apps you can use for it.

There were mixed opinions in the blogosphere about OpenMeta tagging. Some prominent bloggers advised against it because its implementation was done in a way that is not sanctioned by Apple®. They saw it as a hack. Other bloggers embraced tagging. My view was that if Apple® were to introduce a change that interfered with OpenMeta tags or if Apple® themselves introduced a tagging framework (which I saw as just a matter of time), then it would be trivial to port the tags over to a new framework or to Apple®’s framework. (To be sure, I asked one of our developers to do a proof of concept of the former, which turned out as we had expected.) I was right on both counts. (You’ll read the second count, below.)

My main problems with OpenMeta were:

  • OpenMeta products stagnated. I guessed this was because they predicted Apple® would move into this space.
  • The adoption of OpenMeta amongst iOS developers is mixed. DropBox respects OpenMeta tags, for example, but Mekentosj Papers ignores them. Many iOS apps use their own, proprietary tagging frameworks. As a result, it’s difficult to reap the benefit of one’s OpenMeta tags on iPhone® and iPad®.

Apple® last month announced that the next release of OS X, Mavericks, will support tagging. To my knowledge, they have not yet commented on tagging in iOS. But surely syncing tags in iOS will be a cinch. We can therefore reasonably expect iCloud and DropBox to sync Maverick tags.

IronicSoftware, the creators of OpenMeta and the first OpenMeta software have pledged to update their software to be compatible with tagging in Mavericks.  So, as I suggested in my blog post last year, it was safe after all to use OpenMeta tags. Those of us who have been using OpenMeta for years have had its additional cognitive productivity benefits.

I expect third parties to begin to make use of tags on iOS. (E.g., DEVONtechnology and Evernote.)

Now that Apple has finally endorsed tagging, it’s more important than ever that you should understand tagging and what it can do for your knowledge work. In my book, Cognitive Productivity, I explain the importance of tagging for learning and cognitive productivity. It’s a great way to manage the reams of information that come our way. For example, I propose way to tag resources in terms of your projects, the topic, their potency and usefulness.

Neither Apple® nor its competitors have yet fully implemented the technology that is ultimately required for optimal cognitive productivity. In my book, I explain those requirements and ways that you can achieve them despite the way technology is currently implemented. It is time to thrive with knowledge!


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Luc P. Beaudoin

Head of CogZest. Author of Cognitive Productivity . Cognitive productivity consultant and public speaker. Adjunct Professor of Education, Simon Fraser University Co-founder of CogSci Apps Corp. See About Me for more information.