In recent times, an unprecedented amount of Web content has begun to be generated through web logs, wikis and other social tools thanks to lower technology and cost barriers. A new host of content creators is emerging, often individuals with the will to participate in discussions and share their ideas with like-minded people. This is to say that this increasing amount of varied, valuable content is generated by non-trained, non-expert information professionals: they are at the same time users and producers of information.
We have gone past a critical mass of connectivity between people that has introduced a new revolutionary ability to communicate, collaborate and share goods online.
To respond to these increased informational and exchange needs, new communication models are emerging and producing an incredible amount of distributed information that information management professionals, information architects, librarians and knowledge workers at large need to link, aggregate, and organize in order to extract knowledge.
The issue is whether the traditional organizational schemes used so far are suitable to address the classification needs of fast-proliferating, new information sources or if, to achieve this goal, better aggregation and concept matching tools are required.
Folksonomies attempt to provide a solution to this issue, by introducing an innovative distributed approach based on social classification.
Content communities often display characteristics of what are known as folksonomies.
The term folksonomy refers to the way that information is organised – it is a play on the word taxonomy, a classification system. In a folksonomy the information or content is “tagged” with one-word descriptors. Anyone can add a tag to a piece of content and see what other people have tagged, too. For instance, del.icio.us, a bookmark-sharing service that replaces the favourites folder on your web browser, is a prime example of a folksonomy. Content communities such as Flickr, YouTube and blogs generally make use of the folksonomy approach of tagging content to make it more easily found. Music folksonomies have proved particularly popular. Services such as last.fm let you tag tracks as you listen to them, and search and link to music based on other people’s tags.