Delicious, Tagging and Folksonomies

deliciousSo I just jumped into a course called Using the Social Web for Social Change as part of my MBA in sustainable development at BGI. Part of the requirements are to keep a personal learning journal to publicly share my learnings throughout the semester. I thought I would do so here in an effort to add some life to my somewhat idle blog.

Week 1 was on social bookmarking, mostly focused on I wasn’t really on top of delicious or why I would want to use it but I am starting to see the light. My inner luddite has been making considerable noise lately so I have been reluctant to deepen my connection in the digital space. This class is going to carry me along despite the internal ambivalence I have being wrestling with. In a nutshell, is a public space to save, share and tag bookmarks, mostly as a replacement for the bookmarks conventionally stored in your browser. Doing so, makes a your life considerably more visible by letting others know what you are interested in. This I think, is generally a good thing as it can lead you and others to web pages that you would have otherwise not found. Plus, if you change computers, upgrade your hardware, or are travelling you can access your bookmarks without any fuss.

Interesting things start to happen when lots of users start tagging their bookmarks as it leads to what has been termed a folksonomy (folk + taxonomy). A folksonomy is non-heirarchical system for describing the content of something (web page, video, pdf, etc) that is generated by the users of a system. Folksonomies forego formal classification and categorization and work well in the amorphous, decentralized rapidly expanding web. Folksonomies are not a perfect system are there are challenges with ambiguity (how users define words or use the same word/tag in different ways) but in general, their adaptive nature makes it a highly workable fit for helping savvy Internet users find, share and connect with each other and the information they seek.


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