Museums and Folksonomies

February 2, 2006

A folksonomy results from distinct ways of organizing cultural categories developed from the tags, keywords, people use to describe specific content, or services, on the web. The emphasis in folksonomies is on organizing data, not making friends. As Ellyssa Kroski notes, a key difference between Flickr, 43Things, and del.icio.us, when compared to LinkedIn and Friendster, is that the former are focused on organizing data from individual users for the user public, with social relationships arising as users share and seek out others of like mind. The approach is attracting numerous efforts to make accessing information needed to find things easier. I recently came across The Art Museum Community Cataloging Project, called Steve for short. It is an effort to use folksonomies to help visitors find art in museums. Read the rest of this entry »


On Findability and Visual Tags

January 4, 2006

Interfaces are not what they used to be. The computer-human interface is both more and less than it was a few years ago. Interfaces are not only, or even primarily, a screen anymore. Yet, screens remain important to most design efforts, even though interfaces are increasingly part of the environment itself. As John Thackara and Malcolm McCullough both recently pointed out, entire cities are developing into user interfaces as ubiquitous computing environments expand.

Peter Morville has outlined one approach to the challenges posed by ubiquitous computing for people who need to go places or find things. He calls it “ambient findability”: “…a fast emerging world where we can find anyone or anything from anywhere at anytime” (p. 6). Read the rest of this entry »