New ways of organising online information

Many websites now make use of ‘tagging’, where users add their own keywords to web material such as blog posts, web pages and photos, allowing them and others to organise and search for related online content.  It is then possible to find other individuals (see growth of online communities) who share similar in interests through the tags that they use. There is an increasing trend for presenting data visually - using interactive charts or visualisations to show the relationships between tags and other data.

What are the implications?

  • Tagging shifts the responsibility for organising information from organisations to users
  • Because tags are not controlled by a central organisation, folksonomies can appear messy
  • However, as they are based on users’ experiences and opinions they can be more nuanced and detailed
  • Tagging can be used by organisations to involve their users in helping to organise and filter information
  • Tagging is part of a shift towards more peer to peer information sharing (see interactive websites)
  • Social bookmarking (the use of tagging to share links to websites) can be used as a collaborative research tool
  • Tags can help organisations to identify possible new supporters or users, particularly niche groups (see the long tail)

Moving forward

Social bookmarking (the use of tagging to share links to websites) can be used as a collaborative research tool.

  • Could you use social bookmarking to share information with your partners, users and other stakeholders?
  • Could you use social bookmarking as a knowledge management tool within your organisation to share information?
  • Could you use visualisation tools to make the data you collect about your organisation more accessible?

Searching for tags provides a new way of searching for information.

  • Are you aware of what is being said online about your organisation or the subjects you are interested in? You could use websites like to search for information tagged with your organisation’s name for example.

Want to know more?

Social bookmarking in plain English

Published by: Common Craft, two people who make short videos to explain complex ideas in a simple way

Date: 2007

Format: Video

What is it?: A short video demonstrating how the social bookmarking website delicious works

How useful is it?: The video gives a very accessible explanation about how social bookmarking (the use of tags to save, organise and share links to web pages) works, and how it can be used as a collaborative tool.  A good introduction.

Future Focus 3: How will we use new technologies in five years’ time

Date: 2007

Format: PDF

Published by: NCVO Third Sector Foresight

What is it?: An introduction 6 key drivers relating to how the VCS uses new technologies

How useful is it?: It doesn’t provide a detailed explanation of folksonomies or tagging, but does place them within a context, including the wealth of online information and the increasing ease of making new connections.

Data Visualization and Infographics Resources

Date: September 2009

Published by: Smashing Magazine, an online magazine for web designers

What is it? A collection of examples of data visualisations, along with links to tools and resources to help you produce them.

How useful is it? This provides a good overview of the new ways in which data is being presented, and includes a large variety of different visualisations.

Other comments: Includes a link to Many Eyes a collection of free tools for creating visualisations from IBM.


Last updated at 15:28 Fri 21/Jan/11.

Recent comments

Jess's picture


Third Sector Foresight

Here at Foresight, we've been very struck by this online presentation on The Future of Email.

It has some great insights into what the future of online communications holds for us, and lists some significant trends, including the rise of public messenging services and people's increased identification with online communities.

But what particularly struck us is the format of the presentation itself. It's a great example of an interactive information source that lets you cherry-pick the bits that are most relevant to you and your work - is this way of presenting information going to take off?

Join the discussion!

How will this affect your organisation? Have you considered it during your strategic planning? Can you share any interesting relevant links?

Log in or join for free to comment.