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Folksonomy: part 3

Definitions & Musings

ii) Folksonomy

Can folksonomy provide a way forward from this dilemma of structure and change? The first thing to make clear is folksonomy did not arise as a solution to the problems of intranet taxonomy but as by-product of the social nature of tagging. The term was coined by Thomas Vander Wal [i and he uses it to describe the act of tagging and bookmarking in a social environment. By this he is referring to the behaviours seen in informally referencing via tags in social sites such as blogs or in social network sites such as the bookmark sharing site or the photo sharing site Flickr. Vander Wal believes that “folksonomy is tagging that works”. And he posits three tenets of a folksonomy:

1)  tag,

2) object being tagged,


3) identity,

are core to disambiguation of tag terms and provide for a rich understanding of the object being tagged.
The concept reaches deep into the collective promise of the social web as articulated into the terms ‘The Long Tail’ or the ‘Wisdom of Crowds’. It is nuanced to the individual yet collective in its articulation, shared universally by those that use a social network yet consumed individually by the person using that network.

Central to its meaning is a sense of many individuals attributing meaning to online artefacts, be they web pages bookmarked, blogs written, or photos shared and that collected assemblage of knowledge equalling and surpassing the sum all of the small acts of giving meaning via a tag.

This collective knowledge of the ‘people’ forms the folk-sonomy, thus provides an alternate form and structure of meaning to that of the taxonomy. It is thin and democratic, cheap and immediate, flexible and fluid.

The big question here for us is, what can this offer the intranet and its users?

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Folksonomy Coinage and Definition Feb 2007

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