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Free classification using a Wiki

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Faceted classification is a technique that lets you categorize "things" into multiple overlapping hierarchies. For example a Madonna CD might be categorized under "Artists / Madonna" as well as "Format / Compact Disc" and "Price / $10 - $15". The advantage of this is that it doesn't force a dominant decomposition upon the user (to borrow a phrase from Aspect Oriented Programming). For example, one user might restrict themselves to cheap CD's first, while another user might want everything Madonna, cost be damned.

Hmm. Wikis can do most of this already through backlinks. All you have to do is:

  • Make a WikiWord for your class/facet.
  • Put it in the pages you want faceted
  • Click on the WikiWord page's title to find all pages in the facet.

That covers about 80% of everything I need from faceted classification. Further metadata wonkage can be achieved by embedding RDF in the facet page itself, using the WikiWord URIs to denote something or by running a spider over the wiki and stuffing the results into a TopicMap.

The other 20% could be had by allowing a Wiki query to find the union/difference of two wikiwords, something I noodled about a long time ago, but amn't quite sure how to implement.

If you've got a bliki or SnipSnap you should try it and see how much you can done for essentially no cost. If you don't have a wiki handy, you can play with this one

August 3, 2003 01:46 PM


Carlos E. Perez
(August 3, 2003 04:11 PM #)

Check out http://www.manageability.org/blog/
where I've classified blogs into multiple topics.

Notice that when you view any entries that on the right is a related box of entries that have been classified under the same topic.

Yes, I'll try to play around with you Wiki tip, unfortunately I found out today that my admin blew away my wiki installation.


(August 4, 2003 03:49 PM #)

I've put BackLinkUnion on the todo list for my wiki implementation, KwikWiki. The actual searching is trivial to implement and the only thing holding me back is the current lack of support for InterWiki.

I'll email you and/or update the wiki page whenever I finally do implement this.

(August 5, 2003 02:17 PM #)

Good timing, I just so happen to be noodling with a Wiki... please let me know of any other related ideas you have.

(I eventually want the Wiki interface as another front end to IdeaGraph, and everything will be backed by RDF, but I want a smartish Wiki right now for my own notekeeping, so I'm hacking from the Wiki direction)

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» Wiki highs and lows from Ted Leung on the air
Here are some wiki related posts from today's version of the blogosphere. Bill de Hora describes how to do faceted classification with a Wiki. Nick Lothian invents the Fiki: a Wiki that automatically figures out where links should be create [Read More]

Tracked on August 4, 2003 08:52 AM

» Wikis Aren't Enough from About Kim
In response to my post on a faceted classification web framework, Bill de Hra pointed out that wikis can do classification already, via backlinks. But there are a couple of ways in which wikis don't live up to what I'm... [Read More]

Tracked on August 5, 2003 01:48 AM