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Stephen Downes

I noticed this as well and wondered about it.

It is important to distinguish between a network behaviour, such as the folksonomy as described above, and a group behaviour.

A collection of tags may be created in two very distinct ways:

1. people, working independently, just happen to use the same word to describe the same resource

2. people, working together, agree on a term that describes a given (type of) resource

Method number (1) is a folksonomy, and it is a network behaviour. It does not involve collaboration of any sort.

Method number (2) is not, strictly speaking, a folksonomy. It is a method more common to librarians and taxonomers.

We have seen, however, efforts made to organize tags (people will write, "Everybody tag this event 'OCC2007' or whatever).

This sort of organization is arguably no longer a folksonomy, as some people are using a privileged position to instruct other people how to tag (I discuss this in my paper here: )

I would not go so far as to use a word like 'collabulary' - that is a ridiculous word, and is not needed to describe something that we already have perfectly good words for, a 'taxonomy' or a 'vocabulary'.

And the author's suggestion that folksonomies ought to be recognized as 'collabularies' is, in my view, a mistake: it either misrepresents what a folksonomy is, or it uses a new word needlessly.

chris blow

uh ... Hrm. I like collabulary.

Stephen, I think that your argument against the "spike-based power-law-based Instapundit-based network" is great (delightful article, here: But I feel like you're missing the point.

Specifically, in the case of the "nptech" tag we are most certainly using your Method (2) -- and you are right in this view that it is *not* a folksonomy. We decided to use it.

But in the cases I have seen, communities of practice are not using these tags in a way that is formal or even hierarchical. There seems to be just enough organization involved for the tag to provide some higher ratio of signal:noise.

There is no imposition of meaning on the tag "nptech;" it is merely the name of the community. It is an entirely open aggregator. There is not a element of privilege that undermines the value of the network.

I think that "collabulary" connotes (and denotes) this better than

Steve Dale

Yes, all very interesting, but getting back to the real world of managing communities of practice and providing the social media environment through which they can collaborate, the definitions of 'folksonomy' or 'collabulary' are completely immaterial. I'm at the practical end of this debate where I spend most of my time explaining to the users of the CoP platform I've deliverd for local government ( why it wouldn't be a good idea to provide an IE-style file plan for the document library.

I spent the best part of a week explaining the concepts and benefits of having a flat-file tagging mechanism that would enable all users to see (via a tag cloud) what other's were adding to the library, without the need to understand or maintain a file plan.

These debates about folksonomies and collabularies are strictly for the acedemics and not the practitioners. I'm dealing with the real world and trying as best as I can to de-mystify the jargon so that those new to social networking and social media do not feel threatened by stuff the don't understand.

In troducing words such as 'collabulary' to the English language doesn't help my cause one little bit.

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