A Cautious Partnership: The Growing Acceptance of Folksonomy as a Complement to Indexing Digital Images and Catalogs
As archives and museums place their photographic collection on the web, the cost and time of indexing and assigning metadata to these images grows. One potential solution is to allow users to assign metadata to images, a practice known as folksonomy. While detractors label folksonomy as imprecise, sloppy, and overly focused on the needs of individual users, proponents applaud it as being directly tied to users’ vocabularies, inexpensive, and a means of directly engaging users. Suggestions for improvements to folksonomy include providing more structure to the tags users can supply, allowing for feedback to be provided in discussing metadata between users, and even turning the assignment of metadata into a cooperative online game. Despite limited data on its effectiveness in generating relevant images to user searches folksonomy was advocated by the Library of Congress in 2008, and is beginning to be implemented by some libraries as a supplement to their OPAC for users accustomed to searching through web engines. This paper discusses whether folksonomy can be seen as a substitute for traditional indexing and cataloging methods.
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