Shostack + Friends Blog Archive


A Few Ideas Connected by the Tag "Folksonomy"

Nude Cybot, in an email in which he promises to emerge soon, presumably to be exceptionally cold, mentions that folksonomies have hit Wired News. The Wired article points out that there are more “cat” (16,297) tagged images than “dog” (14,041) in Flickr. But the conclusion they draw from this, “If the photo-sharing site Flickr is any indication, the world of digital photographers is dominated by cat people” is very dependent on the search. Puppy (2145) beats kitten (1912). As I discuss in Economics of Taxonomies, the cost of easy classification can be difficulty in searching. Deciding which tags are close enough to kitten to be included in the count is subjective. (Flickr suggests “Related: cat, cats, cute” and that you “See also:
kitty, animal, kittens, pet, animals, pets, black, sleeping, sleep, bw, white”

This relates closely to the idea of Keynes’ Beauty Contests, where your goal was not really to decide which was the most beautiful woman out of a set of photos published by Flickr the newspaper, but to select the one picked by the most other people. This might indicate that those skilled at groupthink will do well in a folksonomy-centric world.

A different way to state that, which would get far fewer nods, because the ideas are more rare, would be to say that those with different orientations may well be disadvantaged by their need to spend energy observing the mainstream, unless they use those analysis to guide their decisions and actions to take advantage of the orientation differences. In this way, those Microsofties with Ipods could be doing their company a great service.

[Prior posts include “Folksonomies, Tested“, and “Economics of Taxonomies“.]

One comment on "A Few Ideas Connected by the Tag "Folksonomy""

  • Asteroid says:

    “those with different orientations may well be disadvantaged by their need to spend energy observing the mainstream”
    This may not, on sum, be a disadvantage. When they spend this energy, their different orientation virtually guarantees that they will observe the mainstream completely differently than the mainstream views itself. More often than not (I submit without proof), this will allow them to see solutions or courses of action that the mainstream does not, information that can be capitalized upon.
    For example, did you ever notice that, historically, a seemingly disproportionate number of the world’s innovators, movers and shakers (Alexander, Turing, Lincoln, Michelangelo, etc.) are homosexual? I suspect this is the work of the above principle. There’s probably a doctoral thesis in there somewhere.

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