March 16, 2005

ETech day 3: Folksonomies

Why let a large and uncontrollable group of users participate in categorisation?
  • [Wikipedia] How else could we possibly do it?
  • [Flickr] It's the users' own data so they should be able to tag/categorise their data as they see fit.
  • [delicious] Started with my own personal links collection, then offered it to everybody. Not all tags are relevant to the group (eg. "to read"). But some tags are explicitly for a team.
How should we resolve tensions between the individual and the group?
  • [wikipedia] The tension is really between the individual and the goal of the encyclopedia.
  • [delicious] Delicious is kind of a reaction to the wiki model where people can fight over the same space; instead everybody has their own space, and the shared space is kind of an emergent property which nobody really owns – so there's nothing to fight over.
  • [Flickr] Here's an example: a guy attending ETech went to Tijuana the day before the conference started and tagged his photos "Etech 05". Perfectly proper for him (it's all part of his trip to ETech), but unhelpful for everybody else, who're expecting to see photos of the actual conference itself. In thoise cases, we defer to the individual at the expense of the group, though we'd like to be able to do more to reconcile the difference.
How can we connect tags together between different systems?
  • [Delicious] It's tricky. We have 200,000 tags, a lot of which are compound words or foreign words, and the vast majority of them (190,000?) are single use. And tags aren't always functionally equivalent between (say) Delicious and Flickr.
  • Maybe an API for tag manipulation?
How can we help/teach/feedback to users to get tagging better?
  • [Wikipedia] Becoming a member of the editing community guarantees lots of feedback because it's a small, close-knit community,
  • [Flickr] There are no bad tags. If it works for you, the tags are sufficient. It's a happy accident that it works at the global level. It's not a problem that we can't guarantee that searching on the "Tokyo" tag gets you every single photo of Tokyo that's held within Flikr. Why would it matter? If there are 100,000 photos of Tokyo in there, nobody could possibly look at them all anyway.

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