This could also be called ‘social findability’ (with apologies to Peter Morville). A lot of stuff has been said about both the dangers and virtues of tagging and their resulting bottom-up information architectures (aka folksonomies). IAs have been working hard to come up with practical ways of merging these with traditional taxonomies, to varying degrees of success. An Italian delegation showed off a cool demo of a facetted tagging application (FaceTag) joined with some solid academic theory (as far as I could tell). The BBC presented a poster on their way of slowly including tags into their controlled vocabulary using a combination of algorithms and old-fashioned human labour. These all point to the emergence of architectures that actually apply the concept of IA pace layering introduced by Morville in his latest book. I’m sure we’ll see more of these in future.
Besides harnessing the power of massive online amateur librarianship (MOAL), another hybrid that should be further investigated is the one resulting from combining social networks with search. There wasn’t much talk about this (Peter Morville briefly mentioned it in his keynote) but it’s definitely in the air. Social search has been experimented with in the web 2.0 arena, but I get the feeling not many IAs have been involved in the effort up till now. Most current endeavours feel like whiz-bang tech demos. Where’s the first useful and usable social search engine?
Speakers on social search during the summit: Peter Morville, Andrea Resmini, Emanuele Quintarelli, Luca Rosati and Karen Loasby (poster).
This is the second post on themes spotted during the Euro IA Summit 2006. The first post was on strategy. Other posts will be on process & deliverables, involving the client and accessibility. My first post-summit post can be found here.