The good, the bad, and the ugly of folksonomies

According to the blog post Folksonomies and Social-Tagging by Kate Baker a folksonomy is “a classification system that arises from tags created by one or more keyword labels that can be used for websites, pictures, videos, and library catalog records.” Unlike tags, folksonomies are generated by many different people using many different tags, something which is both good and bad for libraries and the internet in the 21st century.

The good thing about Folksonomies is that they can be used everywhere and created by everyone. So not only can they be created in Flickr, Library-Thing, and Pinterest but other websites as well. I also like that folksonomies share similar tags which is helpful if you are just browsing for things randomly or want a search term (a tag) similar to the one you are currently looking at. For example, in Library-Thing some similar tags for adventure are science fiction, fantasy, Harry Potter, and magic.

However, despite the good things about Folksonomies there is some bad as well. For example, the major problem with folksonomies is that they are difficult to navigate if you are trying to find something specific. Unlike descriptive metadata, folksonomies are not just classified under simple search terms like title, author, and subject but broad terms such as genre, age, and commons words. In the blog, the author Kate baker even states that if a child wanted to find the children’s book Olivia by Ian Falconer, and didn’t remember the name, and tried to search for it under the term “children’s book pig dress”, different results would show depending on where the child looked and what website was used. Sometimes the book would even be the tenth search result.

I tried this as well, looking for Harry potter and the chamber of secrets using the terms “blue car, wizard, and children’s book” on google and could not find any immediate search results leading to the book’s cover in images.

As for the ugly of folksonomies, the only thing I could think of is if a child was searching for a book or video and came across tags that were not child-friendly, and clicked on it, then that would be the bad part of folksonomies.

Overall, I think folksonomies are very useful in today’s society, despite the possibility of some searches being bad for younger generations. Personally, I think folksonomies should be incorporated into today’s libraries.

References & Citations:

Baker, K., (2012). Folksonomies and Social-Tagging. Idaho



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