We are curious creatures, us humans, we seem intent on categorising everything. I mean the Victorians collected butterflies, Hippies collected vinyl and us modern types collect tags. We have even developed a new word to happily categorise this new ‘thing’, Folksonomy.
A folksonomy is an Internet-based information retrieval methodology consisting of collaboratively generated, open-ended labels that categorize content such as Web pages, online photographs, and Web links.
I notice more and more over the last few months that as the web has evolved into this supposed super hive of interesting things that we are more and more bombarded by ‘blogs’ with ‘Top 10’ this or ‘How to’ that. This got me wondering about how we as people are really using this new found resource. By using these new fangled tagging systems are we in essence just collecting bits of information and simply becoming a collection of refence people? Why not teach our kids how to find information using a resource rather than actually teaching them the information first hand?
You can’t help but feel its a dimension of fashion. Hell even I have this blog here, so it is probably quite hypocritical to talk about trendiness and fashion. Having said that it is more than apparent that the 90’s internet bubble is simply repeating its self but only with more pastel colours, reflections and participation. I guess these are the things that most would ascribe to Web2.0. As ever people will not be constrained to a preformed ideal of any kind and already there are a variety of spoof Web2.0 sites and jokes springing up. I do hope that these fashions do blow over and we see some real innovation in the way that people actually interact with computers.
Will any of these new interactions change the way that we process data? Will tags stick? Personally I think that they are quite a solid idea. However it does seem that they have serious flaws, mainly driven by the people that use them. As mentioned in the Wikipedia article, tag pollution and such can occur within the system. A similar thing appears with RSS feeds. We are so intent on having information at our fingertips that we perhaps don’t consider the quality of that information or the validity of it’s source. Instead we simply tag it or save it, perhaps never to be seen or read ever again. I recall reading a comment somewhere that del.icio.us was more “Write many, Read once” or something to that effect.
Perhaps we are better off simply remembering where we found information or the methods used to find it again, rather than the information its self. After all, the knowledge of how to find something can surely lead to you being able to retain a larger amount of knowledge? It might well be that this is the future of the internet as a knowledge repository. How we access and use that information, I think, will have a significant impact on both us as people and the socieities that we permeate.
- Listening to: The faint hum of servers in a hot office.