Monday, May 04, 2009

Survival of the fittest tag: Folksonomies, findability, and the evolution of information organization

Folksonomies (tagging, et al) have emerged as a means to create order in a rapidly expanding information environment whose existing means to organize content have been strained. This paper examines folksonomies from an evolutionary perspective, viewing the changing conditions of the information environment as having given rise to organization adaptations in order to ensure information “survival” — remaining findable. This essay by Alexis Wichowski published in First Monday traces historical information organization mechanisms, the conditions that gave rise to folksonomies, and the scholarly response, review, and recommendations for the future of folksonomies.
"Folksonomies may be flawed, but they are, at present, the best means known to track what is happening with the non–mainstream of the information environment. If the greatest evolutionary changes in the biological environment — the birth of new species — occur not at the center but in the long tail, what great new transformations may be occurring in the long tail of the information environment? Tagging provides this outlying information, published far from the mainstream, a chance to be found, to be considered useful, and ultimately, to survive."

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