The cognition of tagging
Posted January 7, 2016on:
This LifeHacker article advises that you not tag Evernote posts because tagging disrupts workflow, particularly for creative thinking. However, this argument is flawed in more ways than one.
One assumption is that tagging happens during the processes of creative work. This not only adds to cognitive load, it also is a distraction. However, it does not consider tagging only at the end of the process. This is like doing a summary reflection as part of a disciplined process.
Tagging at the end also attempts to capture the essence or concepts of a process or a learning experience. In cognitive terms, this adds to mental schema. We tend not to remember details; we prefer broad concepts when faced with overwhelming information. The tags aid recall of details by first activating broad concepts.
Creative thinking is not just a result random inspiration. It can be part of a disciplined process. Inspiration can strike when people have a disciplined routine that helps the mind relax and make seemingly serendipitous connections. These activities might take the form of runs, meditation, doodling, blogging, or a host of other regularly scheduled activities.
I tag constantly. I tag my daily blog entries, Diigo bookmarks, Evernote items, and files on my Mac. This not only helps with recall, it also helps me make connections between seemingly disparate concepts. If this is not creative thinking, I do not know what is.