January 03, 2005

Folksonomies

IA folks have been discussing taxonomy development on a couple of interesting social-networking sites:  del.icio.us and flickr.

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.

January 3, 2005 in collaboration, IA/ UX/ Design | Permalink | Comments (0)

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

December 15, 2004 in collaboration | Permalink | Comments (0)