Today’s rambling is about tags, folksonomy, and the sharing of knowledge. This is a topic that is both completely simple (a “tag” is a user-created label or keyword) and complex at the same time. If all users are creating their own tags (or labels or categories) .. then how do we find a common ground to share information or knowledge?
During the loosely defined Web 2.0 evolution, users stepped up to share in the online conversation. And user input (with votes, tags, and knowledge) became more important than the one-to-many publishing model. Business books with titles such as “The Wisdom of the Crowds,” “Wikinomics” and “We are Smarter than Me” began spouting the knowledge of the many.
It was in this spirit that I created Sharing Links, a place for educators to share their knowledge in the form of bookmarks and tags. The site is still in “Beta” because it is not yet finished in a technical sense, nor in a community sense. During the first few months of 2008, however, will I will be unfolding some new and pretty exciting next steps.
So .. back to tagging. If I tag using a holiday site as “xmas” and you tag it as “christmas” … what kind of conversation are we having? In Sharing Links, I approached this problem by displaying Related Tags during every tag search. To take a bigger view, the problems of disparate tagging actually become less as the community grows larger … and a group-created taxonomy (often called a “folksonomy”) sprouts. For example, tools such as “tag clouds” will steer users toward popular tags.
Wikipedia defines “folksonomy” as follows:
“Folksonomy (also known as collaborative tagging , social classification, social indexing, social tagging, and other names) is the practice and method of collaboratively creating and managing tags to annotate and categorize content. In contrast to traditional subject indexing, metadata is not only generated by experts but also by creators and consumers of the content. Usually, freely chosen keywords are used instead of a controlled vocabulary.”
I’m afraid my ramblings here have no conclusion. Just that it is an exciting time to be part of the conversation… and I invite all of you to join us over at SharingLinks. You can pick up an “invitation code” by joining the mailing list at: http://www.surfnetkids.com/sharinglinks.htm