Evernote and Categorization

Taxonomies and folksonomies are the two main ways things are classified. Taxonomy involves categorization using a hierarchy. For example, if you were hungry and did not know what to snack on, you could search “food” as the topic, “dairy” could then be found as a desired sub-class. “Cheese” could be a sub-class under “dairy,” and “cheddar” could be a sub-class under “cheese.” This makes it easy for things to be found when only a few characteristics are being searched for. In this cassette searcher knew that food was the topic but this was the extent of their knowledge.

Folksonomies, on the other hand, categorize items using tags. Using a similar situation as before, a person who knew they wanted cheddar cheese would only search using the tags “cheddar” and “cheese.” Simply using those two tags would be a lot easier than searching through a broader category like”food” looking for cheddar cheese to eventually pop up. Folksonomies are much more effective than taxonomies when you know what you are searching for.

When setting up my Evernote account, a data storage service, I found myself using a combination of taxonomies and folksonomies. My data consisted of different articles or papers that I could eventually use for my honors thesis. When adding them to my database, the first thing I did was add them to my Thesis folder which is a taxonomic categoration. However, I also added tags to them based on what they specifically talked about. This was the folksonomy categorization.

I realized in this process that, personally, I think taxonomies are better, especially when categorizing your own information. It helps keep items more organized because taxonomies can be useful on their own. Folksonomies, on the other hand, can lead to excess information that may not be direct enough. Folksonomies are more effective when used in unison with taxonomies because taxonomies can largely minimize the search volume while the folksonomies pick through that to find the specific search inquiry.

One thing I thought was worth noting was how I categorized this article. (This specific paragraph was added after I first uploaded the post.) While deciding what to tag this article with I used a world cloud generator. The word “cheddar” was tied for third in the most used word and highest recommended tag. This just helps prove my point that folksonomies can be misleading because, while I do mention cheddar probably more than any other word now that I have added this paragraph, this article really has nothing to do with cheddar of any kind.


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