Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Folksonomy II: the wisdom of crowds

I love social bookmarking and tagging. It's a wonderful way to refind old stuff, share new stuff and discover things or people that you would never have found any other way. Yesterday's folksonomy sessions hosted by the IOCT nailed these issues for me. The key outcomes from the sessions focus upon:

  1. new tools that may build the social networking experience by enhancing recommendations to users, connecting users to each other, to websites and to web objects, including: StumbleUpon; FURL;; and Magnolia;
  2. the impact upon a user's identity, through participation with others in various groups, and the meaning that those users generate from participating;
  3. the user's perceptions of the value of specific interactions (with web sites, individual taggers, tags and groups);
  4. the politics of Web 2.0, the control of vocabularies and the means of production;
  5. the impact on the user of the context of specific tags, based upon taxonomies, individual need and another individual's identity, in order to create personal meaning;
  6. Rashmi Sinha's view that "the beauty of tagging is that it taps into an existing cognitive process without adding much cognitive cost";
  7. the relationship between objects to be tagged, individuals who are tagging, the tags or metadata assigned and the communities that are created;
  8. the differences between folksonomy and taxonomy, around the limits on or lack of: structure; control; resources; participation; democratic processes; and the nature of emergent and validated behaviour;
  9. analysis of tags through a clean-up process that merges some (e.g. e-learning and elearning) or controls stems (are tags, tagging and tagger the same for analysis?) or evaluates synonyms;
  10. the value for refindability; team-work; understanding context; storing resources; working across silos; and networking - I'm really interested in these as possible areas for development for support staff, as well as academic teams and student groups, and maybe in combination with other applications like Facebook for wider networking;
  11. the user's ability to use tools for saving, refinding, exploring, searching and interacting, and the belief that granularity has value and that algorithms for searching can make life more efficient;
  12. selective sharing, and building or evaluating trust in individual taggers, tags or web objects; and
  13. the portability of tags, descriptions, identities and communities across applications over time.

In simple terms tagging and group folksonomies can impact upon work processes, and that will be a fruitful avenue for WP1 and WP2, as well as WP7. We need to focus upon the power for refindability of information, team-work, understanding context, storing resources, working across silos and networking.

However, the sessions got me thinking about control and power and politics, and the work of Ivan Illich. De-schooling and the impact on the role of the professional, in order to broaden a social democratic agenda, is definitely an area for more exploration. As is the merging of work and non-work identities where tools are used in both arenas (if such a dichotemy actually exists).

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