Jay Fienberg and the The Folksability Series

I had breakfast this morning with a couple of really smart guys: Chris Dent and Jay Fienberg. This was my first time meeting Jay – he is new in Seattle. We talked about Jay’s recent writings in a series about “folksability�?- which is a work in-progress.

I’m keenly interested and attempting to wrap my mind around the concept with this post.

I think the very basic premise is that some web sites can be viewed in terms of how well they serve the needs of “folks�? (the same folks as in "folksonomy") – the end user who can now play the role of participant as opposed to consumer or user.

Jay does a great job summarizing how folksability works with usability:

So, to summarize: making a comparison between Wikipedia and traditional encyclopedias, and also making a comparison between folksonomy applications and other systems of organizing information, are both making comparisons between things with widely different types of usability. And, folksability can be seen as a framework for evaluating how certain usability priorities change depending on how they affect "folk" participation.

My own words are below- Jay, let me know if this isn’t on target…

If the goal is to put the participation of “folks�? at the center of the value a site is producing, Folksability is the framework for understanding how well a site's design serves that goal. One use of folksability could in the prioritization of features and designs in the development process.

Here is an outline of current and future writings about the subject:

part 2: Usability, or how folks come to use things
part 3: Findability, or how folks come to find things
part 4: Browsability, or how folks come to explore things
part 5: Surprisability, or how folks come to try new things
part 6: Knowability, or how folks come to know things
part 7: Possible conclusions, things to explore

Notice the triumphant return of me using Technorati tags!: