An Argument Against Folksonomies

Folksonomy is defined by the wikipedia as “practice of collaborative categorization using freely chosen keywords.” It’s becoming all the rage, commonly known as “tagging.” After a sleepless night of considering “community”, I’m leaning toward the objection of folksonomies like tagging.

The reason I see tagging as a fad is because of the work it demands of individual users, simply so that I can find my stuff easier. I’m not convinced it’s the easiest method.

But, that’s not why I’m arguing against it.

I’m arguing against it because the end result of folksonomies, or specifically tagging, is still catagorization. If it’s catagorization of data/information for finding things later, it works pretty well (although, like I said, I don’t believe it’s the best). But, I am convinced that people don’t want to tag. People want to relate. MySpace.com‘s pricetag as well as the motivation behind why Flickr was purchased was because “they know how to build community.” Notice, it wasn’t because they tag. It wasn’t because tagging builds communities. And, the end of it is, we want community, not catagorization. We want caring not indexing. Love is a basic need. Information is not. Call me utopian, but I believe what people really want is to be noticed. However, to be noticed by what I produce does nothing for me in the end. I want to be noticed because I exist as a person and my thoughts and feelings are important, not because of my bottom line results.

Folksonomies simply categorize. What we really need is another method of building community, not building information sets.

Nate Ritter lives in the Pacific Northwest (U.S.), popularized the #hashtag and creates web applications for a living. He also does miles and point hacking to enable cheap travel for his family. More here →

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