Friday, March 28, 2008

Using Folksonomies in Content

I've been thinking more and more about folksonomies as a replacement for traditional taxonomies. We can create all the tools we need, or work off of existing tools such as del.icio.us. But in the end, size does matter. For a folksonomy to work, a *lot* of people have to look at and tag the content. To me, this means content has to be exposed to readers, and lots of them, to tag the content.

Traditionally, the classification operation has been something done under control and part of back-room content management, by a small, select group of indexers. So first, we have to decide to relinquish some control. While this may seem scary, in reality the volume of tagging makes up for the lack of specific control. And, we can build the tagging tools so that editors and indexers can follow behind the tagging and clean it up. But if we can achieve a large volume of tagging, the volume and repetitive nature of the tagging will create common tags, threads and relationships.

Second, we need to find a large group of taggers. Depending on the nature of the content, this can be accomplished in a couple of ways. First, and perhaps easiest, is to expose content to the web. Perhaps through incentives, taggers can be enticed to tag. And, of course, staff of the publisher should be encouraged to participate as well. Failing that, a publisher could look at a human-automation engine such as Amazon's Mechanical Turk, where large numbers of minuscule tasks that are best done by people are spread out over many people for a small fee.