UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Understanding a folksonomy as a web classification Hee Jin, Park


Despite increasing interest in folksonomy in practice as well as in research, little has been done to build a solid conceptual framework to understand how people classify Web resources using a folksonomy. This study is an attempt to articulate a conceptual framework that will help us better understand users’ interactions with a folksonomy. The conceptual framework consists of three components of users’ interactions with the folksonomy: (1) tagging – cognitive categorization of an individual user with a Web accessible resource; (2) navigation – exploration and discovery of Web accessible resources in the folksonomic system; and (3) knowledge sharing – representation and communication of knowledge within a domain that consists of a group of users who share the same interests or goals. The current study is exploratory and descriptive, focusing on the first component of users’ interaction with a folksonomy, tagging. The purpose of this study is to explore how users are tagging in order to utilize a folksonomy; and whether or how they understand the social and interactive aspects of tagging in three different folksonomic systems, Connotea (www.connotea.org), Delicious (http://delicious.com), and CiteULike (www.citeulike.org). The study uses Web questionnaires, qualitative diary studies, and follow-up interviews to understand 12 participants’ tagging activities associated with folksonomic interactions. The flow charts developed from 12 participants showed that tagging was a quite complex process, in which each tagging activity was interconnected, and a variety of folksonomic system features were employed. Three main tagging activities involved in the tagging processes have been identified: item selection, tag assignment, and tag searching and discovery. During tag assignment, participants would describe their tagging motivations related to various types of tags. Their perception of the usefulness of types of tags was different when their purpose was social sharing than when it was personal information management. While tagging, participants recognized the social potential of a folksonomic system and used interactive aspects of tagging via various features of the folksonomic system. It is hoped that this empirical study will provide insight into theoretical and practical issues regarding users’ perceptions and use of folksonomy in accessing, sharing, and navigating Web resources.

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