Business Process Library Q Business Process Management

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Folksonomy means categorization of data on the Web conducted by an individual user by using "tags," which work as attributes, such as indices and keywords.


Overview of Folksonomy

What is a tag?
It is a kind of marker that is embedded to indicate additional information concerning characteristics of data.

Folksonomy is a technique by which users can freely tag data on the Internet and utilize those tags as attributes to classify or collect data. There are two ways to classify/acquire data on the Web:

Directory type: "Specialists" called editors check, write abstracts, and input data to a search engine database according to detailed categories; e.g. Yahoo!

Robot type: Software automatically builds a database by collecting web page information; e.g. Google.

What is meta-data?

It refers to data that explain what data mean; data of data.

The point of folksonomy is that not "specialists" or "software" but users of data create metadata. Metadata sometimes include jargons shared only in a specific community, and sometimes subjective attributes, such as a human sense, that have never been contained before. Folksonomy also enables those who tag data to easily find them again later.

The term folksonomy is a coined word, created by Thomas Vander Wal, from "folks," which refers to a group of people, and "taxonomy," which means a system of organizing things.

Advantages/Disadvantages of Folksonomy


  • Users voluntarily create and maintain categories, so the cost for classification is distributed.
  • Users of data themselves tag data, and thus there are no "gaps" between viewpoints of users and those of creators upon classification.


  • There could be "inconsistency" in terms used for tags; e.g. personal computer or PC; United States, USA, the US, or America.
  • Uniformity might lack among users; e.g. quantity or purposes of tags.
  • There could be useless, meaningless, or weired tags, and thereby convenience could be hampered.

Countermeasures against disadvantages have been adopted:

  • Use engines to normalize synonyms and multi-sense words etc. against words used as tags.
  • Encourage competitions among creators for quality and quantity by means of a contrivance such as a game.

Use of Folksonomy

Here are some examples of folksonomy usage:

  • Flickr (Picture-sharing site)
  • (Social bookmark)
  • YouTube (Video-sharing site)

Use of Folksonomy in Companies

Companies can grasp trends among users by looking through tags that users assign to the data offered by the companies, and they can make use of the tags as marketing data. Tags show characteristics of data from three aspects.

  • Data: What kind of data is tagged?
  • Tags: What type of tags is put on the data?
  • People: What sort of users uses and tags the data?

Use of Folksonomy in BPM

What is BI?

It is to utilize various types of data accumulated in companies to execute prompt and accurate decision-making; Business Intelligence.

Software that supports BPM could be able to aggregate process instances spanning multiple process models. Assimilating the concept of folksonomy and tagging execution results of business processes allow classification and analysis of the results from new perspective. Adding arbitrary metadata into execution results enables us to analyze the results from various angles, which results in broader application in BI.

For example, if two execution results of the same process or seemingly unrelated results are tagged as follows, execution results, which have not been aggregated together, can be compared by analyzing Spring/Fall Campaign separately.

What is collective intelligence?

It is aggregated knowledge that many people provide and convert its information.

  • "Spring Campaign"
  • "Fall Campaign"

Also, tagging purposes of use makes it possible to utilize execution results as collective intelligence.

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