In 2010, the documentary Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work, came out (and yes, it’s on Netflix). One minor part of the film shows Rivers physically cataloging index cards of jokes using her own keyword-based system.
This scene is fascinating. One of the most crass female comedians of her time was shown applying her own logic to her own humor for purposes of organization and preservation. This was when I realized how significant folksonomy is, without even knowing the term itself.
Folksonomy and tagging is one of the most relevant organizing tools of the twenty-first century. Of course it is extremely evident on social media through hashtagging on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and WordPress. And although social media may not be part of the information environment – the “totality of evaluated data” (Wichowski) – it is certainly a major part of the social environment.
Folksonomy, tagging, and hashtagging may not be value-based, with a fixed structure or with fixed rules, but its community orientation is significant. Communities of social activists and even sports fans can find one another through this unique aggregation and sharing of data (Elings & Waibel).
Furthermore, it is a valuable tool for public historians, who exist in a nebulous of scholars, archivists, and museum professionals with variable standards for organizing data. We can use existing standards for more productive teaching and learning, but we can also use folksonomy to help create personal interaction between users/visitors and data.
Besides, Joan Rivers doesn’t use Library of Congress subjects to organize her jokes. Her folksonomy is nearly as interesting as her comedy.
– Lauren Ericson