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Wired News: Folksonomies Tap People Power

I meant to blog about this topic last week; then I got distracted, closed my posting window, and thought “I’ll get back to it later.” Well, today Wired News ran this article on folksonomies and reminded me to get back to it now.

I’ve been reading a lot about the folksonomy phenomenon lately (particularly at Many-2-Many where a debate has been raging on the pros and cons of folksonomies). For those unfamiliar with the term, a folksonomy is a user-created tagging system, like those used by Flickr and del.icio.us. Basically, when a user enters an object into their repository (photos in Flickr and bookmark/urls in delicious), they can tag it with custom descriptors. The tags then become a way for the site to organize all the content that users have added to the system.

One of the things which folksonomies allow that I love the most is pages like this, where I can visually assess the current popularity of tags on Flickr based on their font size.

Recently, Technorati has gotten in on the action, and they are recording tags for blog posts (you can rely on the categories setup in your blogging software to create these tags or you can create then manually). Then they are combining this data with data from Flickr, Furl, and delicious to give us this page. I think it’s a intriguing way to see what people are talking about (and taking pictures of, and saving bookmarks about) at this moment in time.

What I think would be really cool is if I could establish a network of “trusted” sources (people who’s work/opinions I respect) and track just their tags. Then I could monitor what was the “latest thing” among people whose opinons actually matter to me (not that the opinions of the unwashed masses don’t matter to me, but, you know, they are the unwashed masses. . .)