Sunday, June 10, 2007

5. Tagging, Folksonomies, Social Bookmarking

We'll see how millions of people organize their knowledge and resources using the Website. Their secret sauce has four ingredients:
  1. Users select websites they want to remember for future access. This small step filters out all of the uninteresting sites and focuses sharply on sites that others have found valuable.
  2. Users label each website with tags that reflect how they categorize it so they can group it with related sites. This free-form method of organization by tagging is called a folksonomy. (Compare this with a taxonomy that is a scientifically-generated system of organization such as Dewey Decimal System or Taxonomy of biological classification.)
  3. shares all of the websites and tags to create a gigantic filtering and categorization system for its users. (note: user's names or accounts are not shared.)
  4. Users may choose to share their favorite website with others in personal, family or interest groups. Bookmarks shared within a social or interest group is sometimes called social bookmarking.
Since users keep their Web bookmarks in, they can access them from any computer on the Internet. It is perfect for students, teachers and traveling people who need to access information from school, home and work.

Let's see in action:
  1. Go to the site.
    (Note that there is no com or org at the end. The official suffix is us for United States.
  2. Notice the lefthand column of currently popular websites (check out any that interest you)
  3. Search for a topic of interest to you or your class. Be as specific as seems reasonable. For example, you could search for: irregular verbs, volcano, deep-sea treasure, cheap wine, organic coffee, thai recipe, plankton, electron microscope photo, baroque music. Rather than getting the most-frequently visited sites, you get the most-recommended sites.
  4. Check out the Habits of wildly successful Users.
  5. Here's a tutorial on YouTube for beginning users (5 min.). Note: schools may block this site.
  6. Teachers use as a way to aggregate the websites they find (and found by their students) into sensible categories. The tagging of websites is key to the success of this use (a classroom or topic tag would be appropriate). The resulting lists can be exported to class web pages, blogs or through RSS feeds.

The short movie (less than 2 min) below offers a simple, visual explanation of the method, reach and power of social networking.

Tag Clouds
  1. Check out the popular tag view of
    The size of the tag reflects its popularity. This view of information is called a Tag Cloud. At a glance you can see the relative levels of activity and interest in a broad field. Notice that both education and Web 2.0 show enormous interest!
  2. Click on a tag of interest and see how to navigate using a tag cloud. Tag clouds are a feature of many websites that provide access to huge amounts of information.
  3. Create a blog entry (with our workshop tag) with your thoughts on a topic that would be a application for your class. You may want to think about how tag clouds could help your students as they try to find good information in the large Internet. Remember that your students only need to create an account if they want to add bookmarks to sites.

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