Folksonomies

Picked up an interesting commentary from David Weinberger about Folksonomies in response to some criticism from the Taxonomy camp. Fully agree with David’s comments. Based on experience I’ve had in implementing enterprise search solutions, users presented with either a taxonomic organisation of content vs. doing a keyword or free-text search for what they are seeking, the vast majority of users will choose a free-text search. The reason being that users don’t want to spend valuable time trying to understand the taxonomy, and particularly where the new breed of search engine is able to return relevant results AND cater for the serendipitous nature of some search queries. Interestingly, Verity (now part of Autonomy) had developed a collaborative taxonomy facility for their K2 search engine, where common terms could be identified for taxonomy labels. Sounds to me that they had recognised the limitations of the inflexible top-down taxonomy approach and were heading towards the realms of folksonomies without realising it. David concludes by stating:

Folksonomies are not only frequently more useful than top-downtaxonomies; they better reflect the bottom-up, messy, ambiguous,inconsistent, social nature of meaning—despite Aristotle and thetradition his genius spawned.

Wish I’d said that!

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