Formal taxonomies have been around for a long time. Librarians have maintained them and put great pride in cautiously adapting them. Everybody who have tried to develop and maintain a set of metadata know that it is as vital as it is hard to keep it up to date with needs of the organization. It is easy to always be one step behind. However, the latest developments around what has been described as Web 2.0 services have brought on a new concept called folksonomies which in essence is a taxonomy created dynamically by all users of a sight. The popular terms at Flickr is one example of one. So that means that we can ”let people loose” and forget about the idea of a centrally managed taxonomy.
No, the cool part is that taxonomies and folksonomies can be combined. That way all the creative power of all users can be harnessed and a steady inflow of needed changes will arrive at the taxnomists desk. The challenge is to be able to connect terms in taxonomy with the keywords in the folksonomy. The people at Siderean have an interesting example of how to do that. It has apparently been used to power Oracle’s new semantic pages at OTN.