Thomas Vander Wal

Public lecture, 2pm, September 18, 2007, Clephan Building, De Montfort University.

Thomas Vander Wal

Folksonomy: A look at a hated word but a loved resource

2:00-3:30PM, September 18, 2007,
Room 0.01, Clephan Building, De Montfort University, Leicester UK, LE1 9BH
This talk is free and open to the public.

Download a PDF version of the presentation here.

"Folksonomy" was recently voted one of the new terms most likely to make you "wince, shudder or want to bang your head on the keyboard." The inventor of the term – Thomas Vander Wal – will give a talk that will offer you a chance to make your own judgment. Thomas will present an introduction to the subject in a lecture followed by a question-and-answer session. The talk is open to all and will not require any specialist knowledge on behalf of the audience.

A Folksonomy can be created when users of "web2.0" sites such as YouTube, Flickr, LastFM and add keywords ("tags") to the items they view in order to add information about these items. As more and more users tags such items more information is created about the the items. Unlike library catalogues which are created by experts, folksonomies are like catalogues created by everyday people. For some, this heralds a brave new era of democratic information management, for others it heralds the death of expertise.

Thomas Vander Wal lives in Bethesda, Maryland, and this is a rare opportunity to hear him in the UK. He coined the term "folksonomy" in 2004 and is a popular speaker on tagging/folksonomy, social web, and web applications around well structured information. He is principal, and senior consultant at InfoCloud Solutions, a social web consulting firm. Thomas has been working professionally on the web since 1995 (with a professional IT background beginning in 1988) and has breadth and depth across many roles and disciplines around web design, social web development & research and general web development. He is a member of the Web Standards Project Steering Committee and helped found the Information Architecture Institute and Boxes & Arrows web magazine. See his web site to find out more:

The lecture is presented as part of the AHRC-funded research project Tags Networks Narrative, examining the interdisciplinary application of experimental social software to the study of narrative in digital contexts. It is a unique speculative project assessing the potential for collaborative social-software techniques such as folksonomy in narrative research. The project explores:

  • What kinds of collaborative social network tools are available for the gathering and classification of information?
  • Which researchers are making online narratives the focus of study, and how are those projects categorised by discipline?
  • How can these researchers make effective use of social network tools to share knowledge and develop interdisciplinary collaborations?

The project is based in the Institute of Creative Technologies (IOCT) at De Montfort University, Leicester UK and is and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Board from October 2006-September 2007. The project team consists of Professor Sue Thomas, Bruce Mason and Simon Mills.

The talk is organised in partnership with Production and Research in Transliteracy group

Useful Resources

Contact: Prof. Sue Thomas, School of Media and Cultural Production, Clephan Building, De Montfort University, Leicester LE1 9BH, UK. Tel. +44 (0)116 207 8266, fax +44 (0) 116 257 7199, email Sue.Thomas at dmu dot ac dot uk.