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Tags, Networks, Narrative. Explorations in Folksonomy Sue Thomas and Bruce Mason IOCT, De Montfort University 30 th January 2007. AHRC Speculative Research Grant. Interdisciplinary applications of experimental social software to the study of narrative in digital contexts

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tags networks narrative

Tags, Networks, Narrative

Explorations in Folksonomy

Sue Thomas and Bruce Mason

IOCT, De Montfort University

30th January 2007

ahrc speculative research grant
AHRC Speculative Research Grant

Interdisciplinary applications of experimental social software to the study of narrative in digital contexts


Oct 07 – Sept 08

Principle Investigator: Prof Sue Thomas

Co-Investigator: Simon Mills

Postdoctoral Researcher: Bruce Mason

Joint Project between the IOCT /

Production & Research in Transliteracy group (PART), Faculty of Humanities

research questions
Research Questions
  • What kinds of collaborative social network tools are available for the gathering and classification of information?
  • Which researchers are making online narratives the focus of study, and how are those projects categorised by discipline?
  • How can these researchers make effective use of social network tools to share knowledge and develop interdisciplinary collaborations?
  • Evaluate the potential of new tools for the sharing and classifying of knowledge, and identify the accompanying opportunities and threats.
  • Obtain an overview of current research into narratives in a digital context.
  • Disseminate findings
  • Identify topics for further investigation.
  • Produce a survey of recent collaborative social network tools.
  • Create a database of researchers working with narratives in a digital context and identify a group to test tools used during the project.
  • Set up and evaluate a series of social software tools.
  • Conduct a seminar presenting project findings and initiating discussion.
  • Generate a revised set of research questions to inform further investigation.
tags according to web 2 0
Tags according to web 2.0
  • A tag is a keyword associated with a piece of information.
  • User generated
  • No formal structure
  • Tagging:
    • Tagger + tag + resource
  • Almost anything can be tagged.
tagging webpages
Tagging webpages
  • Aka social bookmarking
  • Del.icio.us – the big boss of social bookmarking
    • Store your own bookmarks remotely.
    • Tag your bookmarks to organise them.
    • Search others’ bookmarks.
tag clouds
Tag clouds
  • Visualisation tool
    • Font size and weight indicates frequency of tags for a particular set of tagged resources.
  • Can be applied to a single item or set of items.
what can you tell from these
What can you tell from these?

Another example

And another one

web 2 0
Web 2.0
  • Tim O’Reilly’s definition
    • “Web 2.0 is the business revolution in the computer industry caused by the move to the internet as platform, and an attempt to understand the rules for success on that new platform. Chief among those rules is this: Build applications that harness network effects to get better the more people use them.”
  • Tim Berners-Lee’s definition
    • “Nobody even knows what it means.”
  • Top 20 Web 2.0 sites according to Alexa
  • Neologism coined by Thomas Vanderwal
    • Portmanteau of “folk” (us) and “taxonomy” (knowledge representation).
    • Tags let the “folk” categorise the world around them as we want to without having to conform to preset terms, structures and so on.
    • Lack of structure means that it is not always obvious whether one person’s fish is another’s poisson.
most popular tags on del icio us
Most popular tags on del.icio.us

What are delicious users interested in?

deeper into folksonomy
Deeper into folksonomy
  • Requires
    • A large universe of user/creators
    • A feedback mechanism
  • Broad folksonomy
    • Many people tagging the same entity (del.icio.us)
  • Narrow folksonomy
    • Few people tagging the same entity (flickr)
even deeper
Even deeper
  • Broad folksonomy tends to generate a “power law” distribution of tags.
    • i.e. maybe 10% of tags are used for 90% of all instances of tagging.
    • A broad folksonomy can, therefore, give a sense of “aboutness”.
    • Folksonomy is not just a categorisation method; it is a cultural dialogue.