Here are several items on the topic of how we categorize information (labels and metadata) which caught my attention today…
TOP OF THIS LIST: D’Arcy Norman’s Feb. 4 audio post on loosely bound metadata. (Right-click that link to download the MP3 audio file. It’s 3.7 MB and run just over nine minutes.) I’ve heard the neologism “folksonomy” floating around in various circles lately. It sounded vaguely interesting to me, but since I’m already suffering from chronic learning overload, I’ve been pushing it off my radar screen.
…Until I listened to what Norman had to say on the subject, that is. Now I’m totally jazzed and motivated to learn more about folksonomies. I even decided it was time to create a new CONTENTIOUS category called labels and metadata (this grab bag is the first entry in that category).
Here’s a brief excerpt from Norman’s audio post which got me all worked up:
“I love that people are really starting to think about loosely defined metadata in addition to (not to replace) the taxonomy-based metadata that librarians use. Most people don’t really want to enter metadata. They have trouble doing it properly. Now they shouldn’t have to enter it properly, that’s the point. Librarians are good at entering structured metadata, so that’s kind of people who should be entering structure metadata. People like you and me and the rest of the world are better at putting labels on things. Labels are tags, they’re keywords. If we can let people do that and then aggregate all of those labels and tags and keywords together, we end with something that approximates (not replaces, but approximates) the kind of structured metadata that librarians use…”
YES! I love the concept of metadata and what it can do, but actually working with formal taxonomies feels like I’m trying to force my brain to act like a computer. That’s not entirely a bad thing, but it just doesn’t feel human or natural. It takes a lot of effort, and it’s very picky, painstaking work. I can’t say I enjoy it, which means I don’t do it as much as I should. I think that informal, loose metadata systems (folksonomies) not only have greater mass appeal, but also a huge untapped potential. Writers and editors especially could benefit from this, since most of us are good at organizing information but bad at thinking like computers.
Read the rest of this list…