Week 10 Class Reflection: Internet Organizaiton

“Link by Link, Tag by Tag”

Monday nights Social Internet class was split into three parts dedicated to three specific questions, which I will discuss bellow:

What are we talking about?

Two Models for Organizing:

  1. Taxonomy – The traditional method for classifying. Taxonomy involves expert classifying things and coming up with the categories. (top down)
  2. Folksonomy – Opposite of the traditional method which does not require experts to classify things – folksonomy relies on anyone and everyone to classify things, no expert needed! Individuals can tag things and then we see categories emerge out of multiple tags. However they categories aren’t as organized as a traditional taxonomy – not as cleanly separated. One tag may fit in multiple categories.

We did a class exercise, to further emphasize this topic. One of my classmates had a pretty laptop cover of a sunset with mountains and water. Our professor tasked us with coming up with ten different “tags” for this laptop cover. We were asked to write them down and not discuss. These are the tags I came up with:Ocean

  1. Sunset
  2. Pinks
  3. Purple
  4. Skyline
  5. Rocks
  6. Mountains
  7. Shoreline
  8. Alaska
  9. Beautiful
  10. Romantic

Then our professor asked us to paste our tags into a google docs. There were some overlaps in the tags but also a lot of different tags. This is the tag cloud our professor made with the classes tags.

 icloud tag

No rules or guidelines were set prior to this. When rules / criteria are set, we only focus on the criteria and miss other categories by only focusing on the one thing, like color. A useful tagging system doesn’t have rules, this allows important characteristics to emerge.

My main take away from this portion of class: One thing can be “tagged” or classified as many things. One person may see something that no one else does. Suggested tags stop users for coming up with their own contributions!

Why does it even matter?

The next portion of class wad dedicated to answering why tagging even matters? We came up with the following list:

  • Efficiency
  • Necessity
  • Democratizes information organization
  • Feasibility
  • Helps connect the dots
  • This can be used to enhance productivity.
  • Social learning
  • Big data insights
  • Take something that is implicit (knowledge) and make it a more tangible resource that can be used (explicit.)

My take away: For me this discussion helped me clarify the readings – make the implicit explicit.

What do we do with this?

For the third part of class we discussed what we can do with these tags and folksonomies. We discussed reveres Google searches – allows you to search using just an image. Also, we talked about Facebook facial recognition tagging. Is it possible we will eventually get rid of taxonomies and solely use folksonomies.


This class discussion was based on our class readings from the book Everything is Miscellaneous (Prologue and Chapter 5 & 8). The author uses a lot of examples and analogies in his book which gave me a laugh and made it easy to understand the concepts he was talking about. This book is very enjoyable to read! If this is a topic you are interested, I would recommend it! Our professor also mentioned a similar book called Intertwingled by Peter Morville.

In the book Interwingled, Peter Morville says “Classification shapes the way people view the world”. To discuss this we talked about the Dewey Classification system used in libraries. Our professor told us to Google Dewey’s classification for religion – which resulted in a list of Christian religions and then the word “other”. A person viewing this list may assume the world’s most popular religion is Christianity, which is not correct based on world religion stats. Therefore, this shapes people’s views about religions in the world incorrectly. This is an excellent example of Peter Morville’s statement about classification shaping the way people view the world.





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