Do you navigate by Tags?

After launching the ability to view all your tags from the spaces dialog, I personally find I never use it Instead I still navigate from the tags in cards like I did before.

Do you use it?
Should I remove it?

I really like the feature, but I can’t say I use it much yet because I’m still figuring out how to use tags in general. (So maybe: too soon to tell?)

But I’d say even without me using it that much, it’s already changing the way I use tags. Like I’m tagging things with the intention of finding them in the menu. Like all the things I think I should do [[this week]]:

It’s also nice to see a list of all my tags the same way I can see a list of all my spaces.

But the juxtaposition of Tags next to Spaces on the dialogue does kind of imply that tags are at least as important as spaces (kinopio philosophy), which… well I’m not sure what the implications are, but should they be just as important? Just another dimension to think about.

Maybe if there was a search-across-spaces functionality, tags could play a role in that?


This is inspiring to see. I made a similar point on twitter that tags are across spaces, which is an important distinction. Similarly, I thought about how this might interact with any future search-across-spaces feature.

Even though I don’t use tags heavily, it feels like the tag browser deserves something more persistent, because it is the one thing currently that ties spaces together. What if we had a dashboard that somehow mashed together the spaces and tags browsers? I guess what I am looking for is a kinopio-style way of seeing and using all of my spaces and cards. Spaces of spaces. Or a grand overview space of all spaces. I’d love to noodle on some ideas surrounding this :slight_smile:


I’m def down for any ideas/sketches you might have around that :slight_smile:

Yeah I’m not sure about their importance relative to spaces yet,

Do you think it would make sense to replace the UI toggle here with either:

  1. a separate jump to spaces/tags search like feature that would require you to type before seeing results.
    Like this but with spaces, then tags (recent/matching 5 for each):

  2. Just a single ‘tags’ button, maybe in the footer, that when clicked would show you all your tags

Re 1) I think the spaces dialogue is already extremely well designed. But you’re right in that I do mainly use it just to search. So maybe it makes more sense to isolate the search functionality (like you’re showing with the magnifying glass) and leave the space settings in another pane?

Re 2) I like the sound of this too.

Honestly I’m down for whatever you’ve got in mind–just excited to see your ideas / how you curate the experience.

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this might be a dumb question but how do you add a tag?

Not dumb at all, I could make that clearer. Tags are typed inside double brackets like this [[my tag]]

I haven’t used tags, they don’t fit my mental model. I don’t think of individual cards so much as I think about units of knowledge or thoughts, which are one or more cards grouped together in a space. Some spaces have many of these units, some have just one.

The more I use Kinopio, the more I come to believe that space is key to how I think, and so I get more value out of arranging cards in a certain way than I could get from tagging. I read a piece recently called Syntax highlighting is a waste of an information channel and it triggered an aha moment for me, in that what Kinopio does so well is treats space as an information channel and it’s an information channel that resonates so well with me.

Another challenge with tagging is what exactly do I tag with? I’ve had this problem in the past with services that group by tags: how do I describe this thing in the context of a relationship to other things in a way that makes sense today and a year from now. Do I tag it with what it is (article, video) or what it’s about (politics, engineering) or how it made me feel (inspiring, insightful) or how I might want to group it with other things… in Kinopio, I just put it near the other things I’m thinking about when I think about it. Even just thinking about effectively tagging is a burden on my puny brain.

Tagging is a lot like naming things (in the code sense of the phrase): for some people naming things is very easy and intuitive and for others it’s very difficult – I’m in the latter group. I care a lot about organising things well, and so I’ve tried many times to make tagging work for me across many different systems / websites / platforms / products, but it never has.

As I type this out I’m wondering if tags and space are both solutions to the same problem, organisation of the relationships between information, but they’re the opposite solutions. Can tags and space co-exist as part of the same workflow? I don’t know the answer.

The biggest challenge I have is something I encountered while writing this post: I’ll remember something I’ve thought about before, whether it’s a blog post or a video or a note, and I’ll want to reference it again but I only have an imprecise recollection of it. I knew I’d read “Syntax highlighting is a waste of an information channel” before, but I couldn’t find it where I thought it would be in kinopio – it should have been in my inspiration space, with similar articles – and I eventually found it in my triage space, in that scenario the only real help would have been high quality search (that found the card from input of “syntax highlighting”).

Part of me wants to say, get rid of tags! abandon text based organisation! space is everything! and suggest a Google-Maps-marker-clustering-esque-space-minority-report type of experience where all my spaces are together in space and I can zoom in and out to navigate my entire collection of information… but I don’t see tags as a bad thing, just maybe not unlocking the most potential of Kinopio.

basically, what ben said, space of spaces.


Wow great post Sam, lots to digest,

I think it’s more than okay to not use tags , canonically kinopio is about spatial relationships (so spaces, cards and connections).

I see tags as a power user feature on top of that. That’s why I didn’t make a UI “tags” button in the card. In all software w tags, most users don’t use it, probably for the reasons you mentioned for yourself.

Tags like other power user features scale the amount of things you can connect to a thought or a theme by allowing cross-space thematic connections. It basically scales better than just a single spatial map. But just as valid is pruning and keeping spaces neat so they don’t need to scale in the first place.

It’s how you want it. I lean towards pruning and categorizing w/in spaces. But sometimes I’ll want to connect cards in diff spaces by a theme or function.

True card search is absolutely a necessary feature and one I want to provide in the future. Replacing the toggle w search, whether partly (just spaces and tags) or fully ready may be a good way to go.

I really appreciate and resonate with what @sam shared. Let’s aside tags for the moment to highlight a more foundational issue. I also think and work with Kinopio in thoughts, as Sam put it. This occasionally a single card, but more often than not, a group of closely-placed cards. And sometimes with internal connections. This is the power of Kinopio – I can capture my thoughts with the expressiveness of spatiality and connections.

My biggest gap right now: there’s no formal way to represent thoughts. A lot of use cases fall into this pattern for me: I start with a thought, and it starts to grow. Eventually, it takes shape into multiple sections. On the one hand, I would prefer to keep everything in a single space. But with growing size, this gets unwieldy: moving around thoughts requires a lot of manual painting and selecting. Connecting thought to thought can be fuzzy because I’m going from card-to-card, so how do I make it clear I am connecting the whole group?

Based on this, the space is the one organizing structure I have for grouping cards. Yet, there is no canonical way to express relationships between spaces. As Sam reiterated, “space of spaces.” Now, let’s come back to tags. Tags introduces the idea of associating cards across spaces. This is potentially powerful, So a lot of my thinking and discussion around tags is, can this feature be shaped to help me manage and grow my thoughts within Kinopio? But in its current state, it falls short of solving my problem of connecting thoughts.

I think this is why both @sam and I have pushed for some feature that lets you define a container/group/layer of cards within a space. That would allow me to scale up a single space. And then, approaching the problem from the other direction, also why we are musing about a way to show relationships between spaces.

Regarding true card search – I agree this would be a powerful feature. And how much more powerful if it will be if I can launch from a search result seamlessly into its context. When I am searching in Kinopio, I want to also search by thought. So I hope the search results will not only be the literal card name, but allow a way for me to jump into the space, etc.


Here’s a footer tweak I’m experimenting with:

  • made favorites is an icon because the word ‘favorites’ is too long relative to how commonly useful accessing it is
  • move links to the same line as explore and favs because conceptually all are about across-spaces meta-navigation (or navigation-using-metadata)
  • move tags out and connect it to links because they both v meta-nav
  • remove tags from the spaces menu


  • give 1 click access to meta-nav features, remind/hint-to users that these features exist
  • group conceptually alike functions together to make them easier to understand
  • streamline the spaces dialog to be just about top level spaces navigation
  • not build a whole new ui paradigm


Just a quick take here, yes, I agree with this change. I recently saw it there and it didn’t make sense to me :slight_smile:

I agree that links and tags are kinda similar concepts, so your rationale makes sense to me.

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