Document (#32665)

Author
Munk, T.B.
Mork, K.
Title
Folksonomy, the power law & the significance of the least effort
Source
Knowledge organization. 34(2007) no.1, S.16-33
Year
2007
Abstract
The essence of folksonomies is user-created descriptive metadata as opposed to the traditional sender-determined descriptive metadata in taxonomies and faceted classification. We briefly introduce the beginning and principles of folksonomy and discuss the categorizing concept of folksonomies on the basis of the computer program del.icio.us. The selection of the metadata tagged is not accidental, rather tagging follows a pattern that proves to be the pattern for the classic power law, which, in many complex systems is seen to unfold as an imitation-dynamic that creates an asymmetry, where a few descriptive metadata are often reproduced and the majority seldom reproduced. In del.icio.us, it is the very broad and basic subject headings that are often reproduced and achieve power in the system - which in cognitive psychology is called cognitive basic categories - while the small, more specific subject headings are seldom reproduced. The law of power's underlying imitation-dynamic in del.icio.us is explained from the perspective of different theoretical paradigms, i.e. network, economy and cognition. The theorectical and speculative conclusion is that the law of power and asymmetry is biased by a cognitive economizing through a simplification principle in the users construction of descriptive metadata. Free tagging in folksonomies is comparable to empirical experiments in free categorization. Users often choose broad basic categories, because that requires the least cognitive effort. The consequences are that folksonomy is not necessarily a better, more realistic and cheaper method of creating metadata than that which can be generated through taxonomies, faceted classification or search algorithms. Folksonomy as a self-organizing system likely cannot create better and cheaper descriptive metadata.
Theme
Folksonomies
Object
del.icio.us

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