“Folksonomy is the result of personal free tagging of information and objects (anything with a URL) for one’s own retrieval. The tagging is done in a social environment (usually shared and open to others). Folksonomy is created from the act of tagging by the person consuming the information.” (Source: http://www.vanderwal.net/folksonomy.html)
“The three tenets of a folksonomy are a tag, an object being tagged, and an identity.” (http://www.vanderwal.net/folksonomy.html).
In terms of social bookmarking, this would be the tag, the site being tagged, and what the site is about or represents.
In terms of tagging in general, the good thing about sites that allow it (most social media sites are doing now also) is that the user of the information is doing the tagging, and not to producer of the information. This is a big change in how tagging is being performed because the users of the information are now writing the tags that best suit them, instead of having to guess at what tag the producer might have placed on the information, which can sometimes be removed from natural language.
For example (a simple example), a salon tags its homepage with the tags hairstylist and aesthetician because they feel those words better represent the professions of employees in the salon. A user who is typing in the tag search words hairdresser and makeupartist aren’t going to find this salon because the tags do not represent terms used by the masses. The new customer adds their new tags, which leads to more people finding the site and adding their own tag of beautyspecialist, and so on and so forth.
So how about social bookmarking sites?
Social bookmarking services such as delicious and diigo (both of which I have dabbled in but not extensively) at their simplest can be used as a replacement to one’s favourite tab in their internet browser. Instead of saving a link to a computer specific favourites tab, social bookmarking sites allow that user to see and re-retrieve those sites no matter what computer they are using. This is linking with the direction of Web 2.0 toward cloud computing and users saving to the cloud, not specific computers or external devices.
Going beyond this simple function, it can also be used as a substitute to a search engine for users. If a user had tagged a site on a topic they are interested in, they can them see other sites with the same tag that other users have tagged. This can aid discovery, and can potentially be more reliable than search engines at least one users has already viewed, vetted, and then labelled a site with that specific tag.
What are the downfalls to sites using a folksonomy?
There is a lack or regulation and the possibility for users to misuse a popular tag. A business, for example, wanting to drive traffic to their site could tag their site with a popular, yet unrelated, tag in hopes of getting users to click on their site.
A lack of a controlled vocabulary and regulation can also mean users tag a site with a tag that is purely for their own consumption and does not aid others, thus not contributing to the social tagging aspect of these sites. For example I often label my sites with 506Mod1.1 etc. This is an advantage of social bookmarking sites for myself – I can easily retrieve all sites relating to INF506 Module 1.1 – but it does not contribute useful vocabulary tagging for the masses.
So how could it be used for an information organisation?
A teacher librarian could use a social bookmarking site like diigo or delicious as a professional development tool for staff. Signing staff up for one of the sites and encouraging them to ‘follow’ the library can be a way to alert staff of new developments in information literacies, education practices, assessment, or any topic the TL feels teacher should be kept up to date on. Teacher can them read tagged sites when they find the time, or select tags that interest them.
It could also be used in the classroom as an alternative to a traditional search engine, the downfall being the need for students to sign up in order to access these type of sites.
Would Delicious or Diigo be right for my high school library?
Perhaps for teachers, or for information literacy classes, but for the library on the whole I would tend toward a more student friendly social bookmarking site such as pinterest to get information and helpful sites out to students. Our students are visual students and image-based interface pinterest caters to this like a match made in heaven.
Delicious VS Diigo?
After having played with the two, I found Diigo to have more features but I waned in my usage after quite a short time, and delicious to have less features but retaining my usage for much longer. Why is this? Diigo’s annotation tools seemed like the superior site to begin with but required too much work when compared to Delicious simplicity and speed. I felt guilty when I didn’t take advantage of Diigo’s highlighting and text comment boxes, so I just didn’t use it. Delicious only asked two things of me: for tags, and a one line comment if necessary.
In this busy world, with so many new features coming out of Web 2.0, if I am going to keep up with them I need to them expect less time of me to perform and make my life easier, not harder.
Did you spot my misuse of a tag? To try to drive traffic to my site I added in a Justin Bieber tag. It has nothing to do with my blog, but its purpose is to drive up hits on the site. This can be one of the problems with the producers of information creating their own tags…