Finding folksonomies

July 10, 2006 at 12:42 pm Leave a comment

And yet More notes from Ambient Findability by Peter Morville.

p.135 All of chapter six of this book is pretty interesting compelling stuff.  Clay Shirky describes social software in an article entitled “Social Software and the Politics of Groups

p.136 Folksonomy = user-defined labels and tags to organize and share information, informal social classification, user-created bottom-up categorical structure development with an emergent thesaurus” Thomas Vander Wal. “Folksonomies + Controlled Vocabularies” where Shirky comments, ” folksonomies [aren’t] better than controlled vocabularies, it’s that they’re better than nothing…the cost of tagging large systems rigorously is crippling….”

p.137 “…users tag objects with keywords, with the  option of multiple tags.  The tags are shared and become pivots for social navigation.  Users can move…between objects, tags, authors…  Things get interesting when many people apply different tags to the same objects and when many people apply the same tag to different objects.”  Akin to recommendations and listmania on Amazon, for example, you come across things you didn’t realize you were looking for, but that are related in terms of tag, or interest, etc. 

On you can browse the list of other people that have tagged the same object as you, or used the same tag.  Sometimes you find another user who has similar interests.  Sometimes their scope of interest is so broad (or narrow) that it leads to new insights.  For example, the tag informationliteracyon is used by others.  Browsing the list of objects thus tagged, I see a site titled, “Information Literacy for All” tagged by user and it turns out she’s into lots of the same topics as I am. Her page at has a link to her blog and a number of relevant links and papers dealing with information literacy.  Awesome.  Her latest post was for a page ‘how to make a faceted classification and put it on the web.’  Cool.  I tagged it too but I tagged it ‘informationarchitecture‘ as did others.

p.138,9 Folksonomies flourish in the cornucopia of the commons without noticeable cost….They are an amazing tool for trendspotting…not bad for bookmarking and keeping found things found, but when it comes to findability their inability to handle equivalences, hierarchy, and other semantic relationships causes them to fail miserably at any significant scale.  [But] ontologies, taxonomies, and folkonomies are not mutually exclusive…a hybrid metadata ecology that combines elements of each may be ideal.

p. 140,141 References Stewart Brand and Pace Layering in buildings as conceptually similar to this discussion of metadata.  Taxonomies and ontologies provide the solid semantic network that connects interface to infrastructure.  And the fast-moving…folksonomies sit on top: flexible, adaptable, and responsive to user feedback.

p.142 networks and the connection between semantic and social networks…activity – connectors, betweeness – boundary spanners, closeness.  Boundary spanners could be people or documents found in a library or google search.  Nodes can be people or content, and can serve as end or path, data or metadata.  Articles, books, and blogs are not simply destinations, for they often serve as inverse queries that draw users to authors. 

p. 143 mentions the great book describing the science of networks by Albert-Laszlo Barabasi, Linked, and the long tail as described by Chris Anderson.  A Barnes and Noble ‘brick and mortar’ book store contains 100,000 titles, yet a quarter to a third of Amazon’s sales come from outside this top 100,000 titles.

p. 144 What are ‘documents’ and what is the future of ‘the document.’  See “Electronic Discovery in 2010,” Juhnke; “Beyond the page” Smith; “The Social Life of Documents” Brown and Duguid.


Entry filed under: Ambient Findability.

JPod, by Coupland Information Anxiety 2 made me anxious

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