folksonomy : Tag’s epic struggle
for thinking about networks we read Folksonomies – Cooperative Classification and Communication Through Shared Metadata a paper by Adam Mathes seeking to provide an understanding of user created metadata, data about data created by the end users rather than authors or professional
catorgorisationalists classifiers. The term folksonomy comes from folk+taxonomy. Taxonomy being a professional classification system like you would see at your local library or the 14 catagories that all things must fit within on Yahoo. The discussion focuses on del.icio.us and flickr and the systems of tags that are used on both sites for users to catagorize their pictures or links in vocabularies that are known or important ot them. Of course the varied vocabularies cause overlaps in the namespace where the same item may have many different tags, (mac, apple and macintosh all meaning apple macintosh computers) or a single tag having multiple meanings. Not unlike the lore of the number of words for ‘snow’ in the eskimo language or conversly the lack of a word for water, from the viewpoint of a fish.
Flickr has, since the article was written, added clustery goodness as a way to group photos that all have a single same tag but varying other tags. The pot tag for instance has clusters for pot meaning marijuana, weed, etc. , for pot meaning something to cook food with and for pot meaning pottery, ceramics and the like. Del.icio.us has added more robust features that show the most popular tags that other people have tagged a URL with, suggested tags for a URL and, all the tags you have previouly used. TagTagger has a solution for overlapping namespaces.
Folksonomies have some of the best and worst qualities of classification systems as a whole, but its my thinking that the good already outweigh the bad, and the bad are currently being dealt with. The distributed nature of the way we describe our world allows groups to form around the way we see things. Tags let us add mini micro decisions to describe things and give off little hints and signs to the other people how we think of things. Flickr already has groups that form around a certain tag (sometaithurts, squarecircle) but I am unaware of groups forming more dynamically, around an aggregate of tags or tag styles.
There is a fundamental difference in the activities of browsing to find interesting content, as opposed to direct searching to find relevant documents in a query. It is similar to the difference between exploring a problem space to formulate questions, as opposed to actually looking for answers to specifically formulated questions
Can you find your soulmate this way? Are tags your digital fashion sense or haircut? Or are they indicative of your personality? Are they soulless meta data, meaning nothing out of context or when not part of an group of all tags? Its an unfinished though but maybe I’ll come back to it.
in the paper is the flickr tag sometaithurts so I thought it appropriate to include the most popular tags for the above article when I entered it into del.icio.us :
folksonomy metadata tags tagging del.icio.us folksonomies classification
Written by admin (contact).
It was written on November 9th, 2005 at 6:37 pm
Filed in the Category orphan