Aesthetic judgments in folksonomies as a criteria for organising knowledge

Publication Type:

Conference Paper


Isto Huvila


Paradigms and conceptual systems in knowledge organization. Proceedings of the 11th International ISKO Conference 23-26 February, Rome, Italy, Ergon Verlag, Volume 12, p.308-315 (2010)


One of the most central challenges of knowledge organisation research and practice is the question of organising principles. Bliss proposed a consensus of experts as a criteria for knowledge organisation. Thereafter the complexity and ambiguity of criteria has become a subject of discussion, especially influenced by relativist philosophical theories. Hulme introduced already in 1911-1912 the notion of (literary) warrant to denote the (literary) criteria of organising knowledge. Hjørland has written about the limits of consensus and proposed (together with Albrechtsen) domain analysis as an approach for reaching pragmatic criteria. Even though the problems have been acknowledged, in practice, the veritable criteria are articulated only seldom. Feinberg [4] calls for a more explicit argumentation of criteria from the part of the designers of knowledge organisation systems, a view with which Hjørland concurs. The significance of the challenge is underlined by Gnoli who lists the problems related to ’viewpoint warrant’ (viewpoint as a criteria for organising knowledge) as a central challenge of future knowledge organisation research. The present study refers to aesthetics as exemplary of the problems related to viewpoints and knowledge organisation. Aesthetic judgments are essentially cultural and subjective, but same time people tend to expect others to concur with their own judgments [12]. In order to improve the explicity of the warranting factors (as [4] suggests) of aesthetic organisation of knowledge, the present study explores the possibilities to ground organisatory criteria on an empirical investigation of explicit aesthetic judgments of a group of people. This study discusses folksonomies as a source of aesthetic judgments and those judgments as a warrant for controlled organisation of knowledge. The question is whether folksonomies can be used as a source for aesthetic statements which can be used to warrant organisation of knowledge. Photosharing service Flickr is used as an example.

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