From KM to Folksonomy



I do enjoy good folk music on a regular basis, but that is not quite what folksonomy is about.  Folksonomy applies to knowledge management and collaborative techniques.  Let’s explore an example:

Knowledge management (KM) is about getting knowledge where it needs to go, so collaboration is part of this process.  KM helps enable collaboration in an effort to help an organization reach objectives.   There are all kinds of ways that knowledge can move between individuals, groups, or companies.  In our world today we have many tools available to help get this job done.  Most of us have used blogs, Live Meeting, IM, SharePoint, and social networking.   Why is all this important to business today?

The marketplace today is one of fast moving competition.  Organizations need to learn quickly and be able to disseminate the right information to the right people at the right time.  We might call this Right Info3, but it already has an industry name called knowledge management (KM).  The idea here is that knowledge can be learned, stored and leveraged with the aim of using it to improve and gain competitive edge.            

There are many examples of KM successes. One that I read about was a school system in New South Wales, a suburb and urban center of Sydney, Australia.  The Catholic Education Office of Parramatta needed a way to centralize all documentation for its office, schools, and records for 41,000 students.  SharePoint 2010 was chosen and utilized what they call folksonomy functionality.  Here is a little bit on folksonomy: 

“Folksonomies are generally used to organize information and support information retrieval (IR). The public face of many folksonomies is often a tag cloud, with tags usually listed alphabetically and weighted by popularity.  Users might navigate the folksonomy by following tags they’ve used, related tags, popular tags or recent tags. In many cases folksonomies are also used to support search. A site with a huge database of photos like Flickr, for example, might rely almost entirely on a folksonomy for search since there is no full text to fall back on.”  (Morrison, 2007)

So just how does a Catholic school system in Australia use folksonomy, and how does it apply to KM?  Basically, the school staff and teachers at Parramatta can create their own classifications and tags making this a quick and efficient system.  An interesting part of their decision was based on the fact that they were split just about down the middle between PC and Mac technology and systems.  SharePoint 2010 with support for Safari browser was a viable solution for Mac as well.  As of late 2010 the first phase of a document management system rolled out.  It began providing benefits right away with rapid search ability and user friendly design.   “The managed metadata service is easy to use and allowed us to develop a structured hierarchy of documents based on existing classifications … staff can also configure particular parts of the knowledge management system to their own taste, skills and priorities…This helps to make the way people work more open and flexible, and means they are not restricted. It means that everyone can add material where they think it’s important.” (Microsoft, 2010)

I hope this helped to shed a bit of light on what folksonomy is, and how it relates to KM and not guitars.



Morrison, P. J. (2007, November). Why Are They Tagging, and Why Do We Want Them To? . Retrieved June 16, 2011, from Special Section Bulletin:

Microsoft. (2010, November 14). SharePoint 2010 Empowers Knowledge Management in Catholic Education System. Retrieved June 16, 2011, from Microsoft Case Studies:


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