January 03, 2005
A key article explaining the foundation concepts underlying this phenomenon is Folksonomies - Cooperative Classification and Communication Through Shared Metadata.
The author, Adam Mathes, notes that
The organic system of organization developing in Delicious and Flickr was called a "folksonomy" by Thomas Vander Wal in a discussion on an information architecture mailing list (Smith, 2004). It is a combination of "folk" and "taxonomy."
... An important aspect of a folksonomy is that is comprised of terms in a flat namespace: that is, there is no hierarchy, and no directly specified parent-child or sibling relationships between these terms.
Check out my bookmarks at http://del.icio.us/jambop -- you can check out tagging patterns in practice by going to the main page and following any of the most popular tags that are stacked along the right-hand side.
I haven't yet established a Flickr account -- I just haven't had enough time to do photography to my own standards -- but it's likewise fascinating to check out how various people use keywords to describe their photos -- signs, auntie, tsunami, bike, orange. Flickr has a page that tracks the most popular tags. You can get some nice random serendipity by viewing the slideshow.
December 15, 2004
Wikis for Projects and Collaborative Authoring
Michael Angeles has just published a great article entitled Using a Wiki for Documentation and Collaborative Authoring. He makes some nice points and sets out some best practices for getting started using a wiki in team environments -- in his case a staff of information workers.
He notes these as best practices for sustaining use and growth of the wiki:
- Train your users -- Hold informal training sessions at the beginning of your project and make yourself available to help users on an ongoing basis
- Keep it organized -- Invest time in creating and maintaining category pages, and when you see uncategorized pages, talk to the author about putting them in a category
- Understand use -- Watch the recent changes page to understand how people are using the Wiki
- Lead by example - Use the wiki in all of your project work and to document commonly used staff resources, processes and procedures
- Protect -- Public Wikis may be open to edit-spam, so protect yours and back it up often
- Style guides
He also talks about an article that I've found very influential in my work: Malcolm Gladwell's discussion of the loss of the knowledge creation process in his New Yorker article, The Social Life of Paper.