So, we have taxonomies and controlled vocabularies, lots of them (and soon even more of them), but we also have folks, who can’t be bothered to use them, but actually do want some order in the chaos, and then we get folksonomies.
A folksonomy represents simultaneously some of the best and worst in the organization of information. Its uncontrolled nature is fundamentally chaotic, suffers from problems of imprecision and ambiguity that well developed controlled vocabularies and name authorities effectively ameliorate. Adam Mathes (2004) Folksonomies – Cooperative Classification and Communication Through Shared Metadata
I am close to getting to a state where I am satisfied, for now, with my GotzeTagged, in which I make use of folksonomies (fetches del.icio.us content etc.). As I worked on GotzeTagged, and tried to describe it as something more exciting than a link index, it just cried out being called a personomy. I have no idea where that came from, but I like it 🙂
Google shows that someone has registred the domain name, but also that nobody has written about personomy. Until now.
A personomy is “my folksonomy”: Here’s my del.icio.us personomy (‘all tags’). I guess there can be big and small personomies. I also guess that the Zeitgeist has a huge influence not only on the folksonomies, but also on our personomies.
Tim Bray asks:
What am I doing categories for? What is anybody doing categories for? What is everybody doing categories for?
The answer is: It’s all about our personomies.
Perhaps. But I’m arguing that it’s just as problematic to ignore the compelling social, cultural, and academic arguments against lowest-common-denominator classification. I don’t want to toss out folksonomies. But I also don’t want to toss out controlled vocabularies, or expert assignment of categories. I just don’t believe that all expertise can be replicated through repeated and amplified non-expert input.
Louis Rosenfeld describes folksonomies as metadata ecologies, and rightly advises not to take an either/or perspective on folksonomies and taxonomies (more controlled metadata vocabularies):
Please don’t; they are simply two of the many useful approaches to helping users find information.
I now sit here and wonder how much the concept of personomy can be seen as a useful approach to helping users find what they are after.
The architecture astronauts tend to be very much “either/or” when relating to folksonomy-taxonomy.
Personomies and personas
We have long known that architects can get a kick out of thinking in terms of Personas and Use Cases. Architects talk about persona-influenced design perspectives, the customer decision-making process, and prescriptive user engineering. Important stuff. But is it enough? Well, enough for what?
Use cases are like chocolate: They’re delicious, but probably not enough to live of.
Personomy is about using a empathetic focus on personas.
Personomy is like a box of chocolates – you never know what you’re going to get.