I wondered that, too.
Peter Yim shamed me into committing to start a thread about
folksonomy, even though my asbestos suit is at the cleaners. And anyway it
gives me a rash.
First, ontology not-equals folksonomy. See the paper
which will be appearing in a respectable journal soon (at
least it will be respectable until then).
Not only are they not the same concept, they are synergistic.
We're currently working through a public process to specify an ontology for sharing
folksonomy data (tagcommons.org).
Second, why all the confusion?
Because if you think of taxonomy as a way to find things,
you will naturally compare it to other ways of finding things. Like Folksonomies.
What's a folksonomy? Ask Thomas Vander Wal, who gets the banner for this
To me, its data about how people use language to manage
their information. If you think only librarians should manage
information, then you will not like the idea of folksonomies. But if you get
exciting about data on language use or collective knowledge, folksonomy is your
The interesting prospect is what could we do if the
folksonomy data of the world -- what all those people are calling their experiences,
for various reasons -- were exposed in a mildly consistent way so we could make
sense of it. There is no threat that Reuters news service will fire its
team of categorizers in favor of del.icio.us users, or the museums of the world
will let Flickr users catalog the major works of art.
The threat is that the ontology community will get a back
ache from all that navel watching and be unable to keep up with the young folk,
who are inventing the future.