The Political Economy of Online Collaborative Knowledge Organization: The Gift of Tagging and the Development of Folksonomies
The escalating use and development of online folksonomies and the practice of collaborative tagging marks a significant break away from previous models of knowledge organization and classification. As a classificatory model (loosely construed), folksonomies are constructed without any prescribed set of rules, syntax, or controlled vocabulary, and are developed across a distributed virtual social community in which users volunteer their time tagging or describing digital content. This paper will examine this relatively recent phenomenon of collaborative knowledge organization in relation to the larger contemporary social context and attempt to determine how it functions both in the popular imaginary and as a response to the information needs of such a context. Are folksonomies and collaborative tagging projects operating on the periphery of capitalist society, somehow outside the realm of exchange value, and gesturing towards new revolutionary possibilities? Or do they have a central reproductive role to play in aiding the realization of value for the future of global capital?
Keywords: Folksonomy, Knowledge Organization, Tagging, Capitalism, Online Communities
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