Marrying folksonomies and taxonomies
By Kjetil Kjernsmokjetilk. Thursday, March 8, 2007 3:10:15 PM
I'm allowing you to map your tags to a controlled vocabulary. For the time being, it is Wordnet, but I can include a number of such things. The main reasons I used it is that it is allready quite widespread, is organised in subclasses and superclasses (e.g. it knows that a dog is an animal, and that the W3C is standardising a Semantic Web representation of it.
Up to recently, people have classified their stuff into a set of rigidly defined categories, so-called taxonomies. The advantage of having such a rigid set, are that the meaning of each category is clearly defined, you avoid problems such as one person using "dog" while another uses "dogs", and you can organise your categories into hierarchies such as Wordnet, which makes it very usable for a number of applications.
The downside is that it is also very difficult to know the whole vocabulary well enough so that you can classify things in the right way. Thus, it has remained the domain of professional librarians mainly.
Enter "folksonomies", or "tags". Tags have become enormously popular, as it is easy to use. You just name a tag for yourself and use it. You can the find your pictures easily, if people are using the same tag for the same thing, you can also find it to find similar things. But, and a big but, people often use the same tag for a lot of different things. You can perhaps find some related items, but it is often not very reliable, and since everyone would need to maintain their own tag hierarchy, you can't figure out from a picture tagged "dog" that it also depicts an animal.
Now, you can say explicitly what you mean by mapping your tag to any of the suggested Wordnet meanings. If you do, we get the advantages of both these approaches.
For the time being, we don't do a lot with it, and it is only mapped to Wordnet, but in the future, we hope to enable exactly the kind of searches above, "give me all pictures of animals" will include pictures tagged "dog", "cat" etc.
There will also be many more vocabularies. For example, we intend to use tags to allow you to set any Content Label available. We can also let you map tag with a person, when, for example your picture depicts a person.
With this, we intend to make tags the simple way to annotate things on the Semantic Web. Try it out! On the top of your page, you'll see a "My Account", and it is a "Tags" page underneath.