[uf-discuss] xFolk thoughts

Kerri Hicks Kerri_Hicks at brown.edu
Sun Aug 27 17:43:06 PDT 2006

On Aug 27, 2006, at 5:04 PM, Bud Gibson wrote:

> I agree with Tantek's sentiment to keep xFolk simple unless there  
> is justification to make it more complex.  When I wrote xFolk, my  
> intention was to have a format that would allow tagged links to be  
> harvested, not so much to display lists of the links that were thus  
> harvested with proper citation back to the linker and reference to  
> a harvest date.  That's great because people get what it's for  
> without too much trouble, and as a result they don't have too much  
> trouble implementing.

One thing I find useful in folksonomies is that they can represent  
popular opinion on a particular topic at a particular time. One  
benefit of adding dates to individual items in folksonomies is that  
it allows an aggregator to more aptly weigh tags over time. This may  
not seem all that valuable at this point, but as the web ages, I can  
see it becoming a more important issue.

Here's an example: Links to Mel Gibson's bio page (not implying any  
relation to Bud). In aggregate, over the years, Mel will have been  
tagged as handsome, professional, talented, etc...he was long held in  
high esteem by lots of folks. Recently, though, his actions have made  
him sort of a parody of himself.

So, an aggregator that's displaying info about Mel Gibson's bio might  
still show that he's considered more handsome, professional, and  
talented than irresponsible, because the aggregator will have  
collected more of those positive links in volume, even though that  
doesn't show an accurate picture of the public perception of him  
right now. Conversely, in a year, the tags may have caught up with  
him, reflecting a more accurate current popular view, completely  
eliminating the fact that he *was* at one point well-respected.

One could argue, then, that the history of the folksonomy of a  
particular bookmark is irrelevant, and we don't want to facilitate  
people looking  back, but if that's the case, one must also consider  
that a week after Mel's arrest, when you look at the folksonomy of  
his bio page, what it is displaying is, in fact, nothing more than  
history -- and not the current popular opinion -- if the tags aren't  
weighed by date, but only by volume.

It could be that we expect aggregators to simply datestamp entries  
when they're scraped, but that necessarily puts any new aggregator at  
a disadvantage to its earlier competition -- scraping old items  
without dates is the same as new.

I have no answers, but thought this might be an interesting enough  
issue to explore.


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