Why I use ‘ethnoclassification’ rather than ‘folksonomy’.
- ‘Ethnoclassification’ recalls ‘ethnomethodology’, Harold Garfinkel’s coinage for the study of the collective construction of everyday life. Garfinkel took a great deal from Alfred Schutz; I think some of his work develops Schutz’s social phenomenology in the wrong direction, but to have Schutz’s work developed at all is a good thing. In this context, the term ‘ethnoclassification’ suggests a process that’s continual, provisional and embedded in practical activity: the place where it happens (to borrow a phrase from Russell Hoban) is Everywhere All The Time. I think this is a good emphasis.
- ‘Folksonomy’, by contrast, suggests both a process and the end result (a viable folk-taxonomy); as such it’s confusing and promotes fuzzy argument.
- It’s also a term with a strong positive value: forward the taxonomy of the folk! a bas les bibliothecaires! It’s a marketing term as well as a term of analysis, and lends itself to slippage between description and advocacy.
- (Last and least) It’s etymologically ghastly and obtrusively American (I don’t say ‘candy’, I don’t say ‘diaper’ and I don’t say ‘folks’).
Henceforth – starting in the previous post, to be more precise – I’ll be using ‘ethnoclassification’ to refer to the (real, universal, continuing) process and ‘folksonomy’ to refer to the (hyped, unrealised, arguably unrealisable) end result.