Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Folksonomy

This topic has captured my imagination. I read and blogged the bit before during breakfast and through my shower and BART ride into the office (where I'm writing the first version of this post), I can't stop thinking about it.

I love the term "folksonomy."

There's something going on here and I'm not quite sure what it is. But pieces are swirling around in my head and I feel like if I make the effort to write about them. To put the pieces into the same content unit that I'll have some chance, or someone else will, of getting at what I mean.

That's all a disclaimer that says: I don't actually know what I'm talking about here.

Here's what I've seen:
del.icio.us and flickr
the smartmobs tag
the swiftvets tag

Rafe Colburn of rc3daily propogated the use of the del.icio.us swiftvet tag. On Smart Mobs, Howard Rheingold pushed using the tag smartmobs. This method aggregates the all del.icio.us links users approrpiately tagged posting into one nice neat file. It can then be exported via the del.icio.us API for display on a website. Okay interesting.

But it doesn't take advantage of the concept of a folksonomy. It pushes out one word and asks that users pick that piece and uses it, swiftvets or smartmobs, as a starting place for a taxonomy. This depends that people see the information in the first place, that they remember and use the tag (I didn't; I kept trying to use "swiftvet" which left me out of the community that was being formed).

It seems there have to be other ways to get at this. Bottom up ways. But they require, as do most bottom up ways, a lot more effort on the part of the people who are trying to create the benefit to the group.

If I post a link to del.icio.us I can quickly and easily see who else as posted to that link (in fact, it tells me how many people have posted the link). There should be some way for someone (not me mind you, but someone) to write a script that uses the del.icio.us API to see what the most common tags, presented in descending order, This would be a way to find out what words people are using to describe what you've identified, for whatever reason, as a like group of objects. Once you've grabbed it use it and let power laws and aggregation begin to apply.