Too many people have been decrying the word folksonomy for me to link to them here. Personally I think folksonomy is quite cute, but it drives me crazy anyway because it implies that a folksonomy is a taxonomy. In fact it’s nothing of the kind: a taxonomy is by definition hierarchical while a folksonomy is all about overlapping categories.

However, in one of the texts we’re reading for a KM course I found an absolutely horrendous word:


Meaning technology as applied to knowledge management. That’s so ugly it’s beautiful.

5 thoughts on “Neuglygism

  1. Don’t trust Wikipedia on folksonomy as it is currently wrong. Folksonomy removes the formal structure of the word taxonomy by removing tax. The definition of taxonomy has nothing to do with heirarchy, but formal structure, which may or may not be a heirarchy. A classification system must be a heirarchy, but a taxonomy does not.

    A folksonomy is a non-formal personal tagging system that can align with facets or categories. A folksonomy is bottom-up and free form.

    I hope this helps clear things up.

  2. As the coiner of the term you are entitled to have everyone within earshot pay attention to your explanation, and I hope the Wikipedia gets corrected with your comments in mind.

    But once you release a term into the world, another “folks-” process goes on, namely folk etymology. So I fear that the connotation of taxonomy is there whether it’s intended or not.

    Thanks for stopping by. I’m honored!

  3. Is there a name for a term like “techknowlogy” where the chief feature is a spelling change rather than a pronunciation change? It’s sort of like an eye dialect homonym, right?

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