Folksonomies and emergent social structures

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Web Science[1]


Folksonomy is a system in which users applyUse an idea, equation, principle, theory or law in relation to a given problem or issue. public tags to online items, typically to aid them in re-finding those items. This can give rise to a classification system based on those tags and their frequencies, in contrastGive an account of the differences between two (or more) items or situations, referring to both (all) of them throughout. to a taxonomic classification specified by the owners of the content when it is published. This practice is also known as collaborative tagging, social classification, social indexing, and social tagging. Folksonomy was originally "the result of personal free tagging of information [...] for one's own retrieval", but online sharing and interaction expanded it into collaborative forms. Social tagging is the application of tags in an open online environment where the tags of other users are available to others. Collaborative tagging (also known as group tagging) is tagging performed by a group of users. This type of folksonomy is commonly used in cooperative and collaborative projects such as research, content repositories, and social bookmarking.[2]

Emergent social structures

Social streams are a relatively new and fast growing source of data. Many different types of social streams exist and their structure is not necessarily predefined by system developers but emerges via user activities and is therefore a collectively-generated data structure that may go far beyond what the system designers’ have envisioned. Emerging syntax conventions, such as RT (retweets), # (hashtags) or @ (replies), are examples of innovations by users that superimpose an informal, emerging data structure on social streams. This has made social streams complex and dynamic structures which can be analyzed in a staggering variety of ways, for example, according to the author(s) of messages, the recipients of messages, the links, keywords or hashtags contained in messages, the time stamps of messages or the message types.[3]

The change

We now find ourselves with users creating their own structure of information. One need only look at the #metoo hashtag which empowered women everywhere to speak out against sexual assault and harassment.

Do you understand this?


These standards are used from the IB Computer Science Subject Guide[4]

  • DescribeGive a detailed account or picture of a situation, event, pattern or process. how folksonomies and emergent social structures are changing the web.


  4. IB Diploma Programme Computer science guide (first examinations 2014). Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom: International Baccalaureate Organization. January 2012.