Word for the Day: Neologism

June 11, 2005


What is a neologism? I’ll get to that in a minute. In the meantime, it’s time to play a little catch-up.

Earlier this week, I got Greasemonkey working on Deer Park Alpha 1. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’ve blogged about that already. But it has given me a chance to catch up on some interesting scripts.

One of the jewels I found is the Blogger Technorati Tags script. The script is simple. It adds tagging functionality to the Edit/Compose dialogs in Blogger. This script adds a data entry field and a submit button. Once clicked, the button invokes a script that creates the necessary Technorati tags which are embedded in the posting.

And as everyone knows, one thing necessarily leads to another. So I started to add Technorati tags to all of my posts. This was easy. Then I started to see if I was tagging things effectively. So I spent a couple of hours on Technorati. I got to see how folks are tagging their posts. And I then ran across the new Technorati. Earlier this week, the folks at Technorati released the beta site to the public. The new site can be found at http://beta.technorati.com. BTW, I really like the new site. It has a good look and feel. And some of the tag aggregation features are really cool.

So Deer Park Alpha led to Greasemonkey, which led to tagging scripts, which led to the beta Technorati site, whic led to… tag clouding. So off I went to TagCloud. Tag clouds are very interesting. They utilize the tags collected at social bookmarking sites (like Flikr, Technoratir, Furl, etc). And this data is displayed in a visual form. Specifically, top words are collected and listed on the page. And the tags that are most active are displayed in an increasingly larger font. Jeffrey Zeldman went so far as to say that tag clouds are the new mullets. Specifically, Zeldman asserts that tag clouds have crossed a social threshold and become a meme for silliness.

I don’t know if I concur with Jeffrey – not just yet. But it is interesting to see an idea like this take on a cult-like social following. It’s almost like the crazy Macarena dance! Sure it was fun. But it was really annoying after a while. For me, I am thinking of using tag clouds as social barometers. They can measure the relative “link pressure” of any given topic. For example, during this week’s Apple/Intel discussions, you could really see how the blogosphere was reacting by watching how “big” these words got in various tag clouds and tagging communities. In a way, tag clouds are the mood rings of techno-zeitgest.

BTW, all of this leads me to the title of the post. A neologism is a newly coined word. And the word that spawned this peculiar dictionary query is: folksonomy. A folksonomy is a taxonomy created by a social-networking mechanism (i.e., a taxonomy created by folks). And in this context, that taxonomy is expressed via tags and implicit categories.

And on a completely unrelated note, it is extremely important to mention that we started with Greasemonkey and ended at a Wikipedia entry for social-networking. In no way did any of these degres of separation lead to Kevin Bacon. I’ll leave that task to the readers! šŸ˜‰




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