Folksonomies: Metadata or Mess? [B4]


A folksonomy is a decentralised, social approach to creating online metadata for digital assets. The result is a flat namespace with no hierarchy or control. This new practice, used on sites like and Flikr, has sparked off a lot of debate between those eager for a user-centred Web and others in favour of more formal classification systems. This workshop will look at the history of folksonomies and the issues involved in their use. Participants will have a go at personalised classification (tagging) and then through discussion and group work will consider its advantages and disadvantages. Finally participants will reflect on whether folksonomies have a role in an interoperable future.

Learning Outcomes:

By the end of the session participants will:

  • Have gained an understanding of what folksonomies are, how they are being used and their evolution.
  • Have explored how personal classification is carried out and the issues involved when choosing terms.
  • Have gained an understanding of when and why users might prefer to use a dynamic set of classifications rather than a static set and the advantages and disadvantages of both systems.
  • Have considered the role folksonomies can play in an interoperable Web.