Collabulary

I found this a few days ago and realized that it embodied the difference between how I understand tag folksonomies and how others (with whom I’ve argued) may see them. That is, I see the role of the social group — the wisdom of the crowd — as essential to the success of our folksonomic efforts. As it turns out, somebody’s come up with a word that emphasizes that (uncoordinated) collaboration: collabulary. Here’s how it reads in Wikipedia:

Collabulary, a portmanteau word combining “collaborative” and “vocabulary”, refers to a theoretical method of labelling and organising data by collaborative tagging. It avoids the weaknesses of a controlled vocabulary, ontology and folksonomy by combining their strengths.

It is a thesaurus of metadata generated by multiple end users.

Content consumers define tags, which are then attributed to the content. The quality of relevance between the user-generated metadata and the content is strengthened by other users in a democratic fashion, i.e. if two users define an object as being ‘white’ and one user defines an object as being ‘cream’ then a relevance can be defined as “_more white than cream_”, with this statement being derived by the data structure, which in turn has been defined by users.

Thus, as in the strength of a collaborative system such as a wiki, the combined effort of many users strengthen the rating of metadata and erroneous definitions (for example, through poor spelling, poor understanding, or poor use of the content or the system on which it resides) also known as meta noise, are reduced to minimal levels.

The data structure generated can be interpreted by software (for generation of enhanced tag clouds which show hierarchical data structures) and by humans (to see their influence on the organisation of information within a system).