Thomas Vander Wal is an analyst, strategist, advisor, and popular speaker. He focusses his work on increasing value and optimizing social tools inside, through, and outside the firewall. He works with organizations of all sizes and focus (non-profit and education to Fortune 500) to help them better understand the values and hidden considerations in building, implementing, and optimizing these social tools. He has a broad and deep background covering more than 20 years of experience in project/product/program management, application development, and user experience.
Thomas puts the focus on improving use and reuse of shared information in the services and tools. He deeply understands the tensions and need to focus on: The people using the tools as they need: the difference of collaboration, community, & collective services; and Implementing and maintaining these services on individual as well as across various services and tools.
Thomas has a strong focus on metadata for machine use, but also for people finding information and refinding it. He coined the term "folksonomy" to differentiate the shared terms people apply for their own use as well as others. He also helps develop the integration of folksonomy with taxonomy for the best results.
Thomas helped found the Boxes and Arrows online magazine, helped found the Institute for Information Architecture, and has been a member of the Web Standards Project Steering Committee. He is currently working on a book for O'Reilly media on "Understanding Folksonomy".