data blogs

April 12th, 2005

Some SPIRE folks and I have talked about using folksonomies to do for data sharing what they´ve done for picture and bookmark sharing. In particular, one thing that makes tagging sights like flickr and so powerful is that every user is free to add tags to already tagged resources. In other words, the metadata attached to a resource can evolve as the community gains new understandings of what the resource relates to. We´ve been talking for a while (mentioned it in at least one proposal) about developing a system that allows scientists to tag data according to what they find it useful for, and that attaches those tags to the data. But, in a sense, the Technorati-blogging infrastructure already provides such a system.

For example, I blogged a link to an NBII dataset, tagged it both “foodweb” and “habitat”, and now it shows up at and If anybody used this data, they could tag it according to what they use it for. For example, the habitat data could be tagged “colorado river toad”. All the tags of a dataset can be found by following the linkbacks. (flickr provides a more straightforward way of viewing all the tags associated with a picture.)

More generally … People have been contrasting folksonomies with the semantic web, as if they were in opposition to each other. In many cases, however, folksonomies can easily slip into the semantic web framework, playing the role currently played by taxonomies. any thoughts on this?