I'm a big fan of LinkedIn and think that there's incredible value in the site. And I'm happy that they now have the concept of Saved Profiles and that they provide the ability to organize your saved profiles. When you add this to some of the other CRM type capabilities they are adding, it begins to make LinkedIn even more powerful.
But I'm a bit surprised that they decided to use a folder metaphor as opposed to tags. Yes, there are a large number of people who really don't quite get tags, but you can always show them a folder view on top of tags. This is how Google does things. Allow tagging and treat tags a bit like folders in the interface. Here's the Google Reader "folders" but really they are tags as you can assign them to many different folders.
Well I should be a little more exact. What's the difference between tags and folders? Both are really attributes of an object. The object is associated with a folder or with tags.
- Folders – generally pure hierarchy and well defined set of folders. Folders themselves can be placed inside other folders.
- Tags – arbitrary strings associated with an object. By convention, tags can be used to look like folders in that all things tagged with the same value can be shown under that "folder". And by convention you can make them hierarchical, but most often you don't.
With something as messy as people, I'm really surprised that LinkedIn would have gone with a Folder system – and only provided a limited number of folders. Yikes. There must have been some heated discussions around the design of this feature.
Just like building anything as installed software is questioned today, designing anything based on folders should be questioned.