Blog Network and Folksonomy

The word Folksonomy (or commonly known as "tagging") has to be one of biggest buzzwords on Internet today, as it has been popularised by del.icio.us, Flickr and the like. What is folksonomy anyway? Here is the definition from WikiPedia (as of 4 July 2005):

Folksonomy is a neologism for a practice of collaborative categorization using freely chosen keywords. More colloquially, this refers to a group of people cooperating spontaneously to organize information into categories. In contrast to formal classification methods, this phenomenon typically only arises in non-hierarchical communities, such as public websites, as opposed to multi-level teams. Since the organizers of the information are usually its primary users, folksonomy produces results that reflect more accurately the population's conceptual model of the information.

The idea is, everyone tags a piece of information with his/her own keywords, and collaboratively, with big enough population contributing to the system, you can organise and classify a much bigger dataset when each user's "tag-space" emerges.

I have just started testing out this concept in a blog network context. What is everybody writing about? Or, can I see what everyone is writing about against a specific keyword?

The blog network here is our FOCUSer.net recent updates, a blog aggregator that fetches the latest entries from each blog, and tag new entries with their corresponding "categories" exported in their feeds. For example, I can check what everyone writes about "life" - you'll see a list of blog entries from different blogs where their authors classified them under the keyword "life". It works very much like technorati, except it only classifies for a small Christian blog network in FOCUS.

So far it has not worked well, yet. I blamed on,

  • Relatively small contributors. Only 26 blogs at the moment.
  • Too small the data set. It has only been running for 6 weeks, with less than 500 entries in the database.
  • Too large the relative categories. Almost 100 "tags" against 500 entries - that makes your keyword->data selection very sparse.
  • People don't tag/categorise. There are many entries under uncategorized (WordPress' default category). Folksonomy would only work if individual contributors classify their own data first.

You too can help (if you are in FOCUS), by submitting your blog into the aggregator, and be part of this social network experiment.