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by Jay Fienberg

Folksability, part 1: usability + findability + browsability + surprisability + knowability

posted: Mar 16, 2005 10:00:00 PM

As I've mentioned here a few times now, a couple months ago, I started to write and then failed to finish a giant post about various pro/con debates on folksonomy and on Wikipedia, and on how they were related.

I've decided to try again (from scratch) in this series of posts that propose a framework for what I call "folksability", which I define as follows:

Folksability is the quality that allows folks (some generally implicit, sometimes explicit, collection of individuals) to feel that something (e.g., a website, a service, a place, etc.) is, in some implicit or explicit sense, individually and collectively their own, and that their interaction with that thing is responsive first of all to their needs and not confined by "the man" or any other non-folk individual or group of people too-full-of-themselves-to-be-called-folk.

Now, my basic observation that suggests this framework: comparing the value of folksonomy applications to more traditional forms of information systems, like comparing the value of Wikipedia to more traditional forms of encyclopedias, tends to be skewed around the valuation of folksability in relation to each of its "-ability" attributes in any particular situation.

These "-ability" attributes of folksability are: usability, findability, browsability, surprisability and knowability. Some of these terms are in more or less common usage, and some are ones I've coined or am otherwise trying to define in this series.

What I hope this framework will provide is a way to see how folksability affects discussions about the pros and cons of folksonomy, Wikipedia, the folk developments of the web in general, and application/system design and development in general.

Perhaps then, folksability can be useful as a way to describe and even measure an important quality that our designs and developments can choose to prioritize—or, otherwise, have clearer reasons not to prioritize.


As a preliminary observation about the pro/con discussions of folksonomy and of Wikipedia:

Generally, the con arguments fail to recognize how much value people find in things that provide a high level of folksability—and how less "function" in any dimension is offset by folksability.

And, generally, the pro arguments mistakenly attribute the value people find in these things (that provide a high level of folksability) to specific features or functions whose values are significantly supplemented by the value in folksability itself.

More detailed ideas follow in these subsequent posts:

(Oh, better tag this sucka: ;-)

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trackback from: the iCite net development blog
posted: Apr 6, 2005 4:18:16 PM
title: Folksability time warp posts

This post ... will include links to each of the eight parts in the series.

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