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Ethnographic Study of Ethnoclassification

by David Sturtz

Another useful look at [ethnoclassification/tagsonomy/folksonomy/communal categorization], this time with actual users and focusing on Take a look at Bookmark, Classify and Share: A mini-ethnography of social practices in a distributed classification community by Ulises Ali Mejias (via

[…] it is hard for people to make the initial conceptual shift from traditional forms of classification (using fixed taxonomies) to distributed classification schemes (using flexible taxonomies). The freedom to define individual and social structures of classification emergently can be perceived as chaotic, lacking rigor and utility. However, the more comfortable users become with a systemís features, the more aware they become of the benefits of distributed classification, and the more aware they also become of working within its limitations.

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James Muspratt | January 13, 2005 11:53 PM

Good stuff, David. One trend I’ve noticed on is to institute a sort of hacked subclass system using periods or underscores. Some bookmarks get tagged as web_design while others get tagged as web_code or even web_code_php. This seems kind of unnecessary to me, especially in light of the ability to search tag intersections via the url ( Can these people just not let go of nested classification systems or is there some advantage to their method? There’s the inconsistency problem here, too: some people use underscores as separators while others use periods or dashes — maybe they should be penalized somehow for “anti-social” tagging. Right. That’ll be the day.

In any case, I’ve found a lot better than any browser-based system so far. My collection is now big enough that I rely on the the text and tag searches exactly the way I do in Gmail.

Thanks for the links!

James | January 13, 2005 11:55 PM

ooh,,, moderating now, are we?