Collaborative knowledge gardening

Next month I'll be giving a talk on social software to an audience of CTOs. To prime the pump, I've been spending some time with two of the newer services in the space: Flickr and Neither focuses primarily on the six-degrees-of-separation dynamic that drives LinkedIn, Orkut, Friendster, and Spoke. Flickr, as I would explain it to my friends and family, is a way to easily upload and share digital photos. And does the same thing for Web bookmarks.

To CTOs, though, I'd say that both are collaborative systems for building a shared database of items, developing a metadata vocabulary about the items, performing metadata-driven queries, and monitoring change in areas of interest. [Full story at]
While I was on vacation, this column percolated through the infosphere. Now that I'm back, I'm seeing some interesting ripple effects. It had already been apparent that in addition to monitoring the blog conversations swirling around a column, it would be interesting to monitor the traffic too. Not surprisingly, those two views have now begun to merge.

For example, several of the responses tracked here on also show up here in Bloglines. Fabio Sergio has the explanation:

I've joined the ranks of those using to keep track of random sightings.
In case you're interested here's freegorifero's page and its de-rigueur RSS feed.

The great folks over at FeedBurner have enhanced their SmartFeed to enable and Flickr users to neatly package their social bookmarks and photos together with their "regular" weblog feed.
This means that freegorifero's weblog RSS feed will now also include freegorifero's links.
Isn't life wonderful?

Talk about the power of small pieces, loosely joined. [freegorifero]
Although this feed splicing stuff is interesting, there are can be subtle consequences. For example, a link appearing in a linkblog (such as a feed) tends to represent a smaller investment of thought and effort than a link appearing in a "regular" blog. If the two sources of links remain distinct, I can choose to regard them separately or, at my discretion, merge them. If they're blended at the source, though, it may or may not be possible to recover that distinction.

Here's another interesting ripple effect I noticed. To help me decide which tags to assign to this item I'm now writing, I took advantage of the fact that the column it refers to has been percolating for a week. The tags that the collective applied to that column, excluding those used only once, were as follows:
              flickr: 10
                 web:  9
              social:  8
            software:  6
      socialsoftware:  6
           delicious:  6
       collaboration:  6
            metadata:  5
                tags:  4
           knowledge:  4
            taxonomy:  3
knowledge_management:  3
                  km:  3
            internet:  3
          folksonomy:  3
           community:  3
             tagging:  2
      socialnetworks:  2
     social_software:  2
         photography:  2
             network:  2
 knowledgemanagement:  2
               ideas:  2
       collaborative:  2
            articles:  2
This view helped me decide which tags to apply to this item. My choices were: flickr socialsoftware metadata folksonomy
I wrote a one-off script to create this view, as needed, for items that have been tagged by multiple users. The "folksonomy"-style services -- including, Flickr, and furl -- track tag popularity in a general way, but how would this more granular view of tag popularity influence behavior? I guess someone will try that experiment soon, and then we'll see.

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