The Folklore.org site is in some ways a surprise. The Mac founders get it in a way that most folklorists can tell you a lot of people do not: they seem to understand that folklore is linked with storytelling and storytelling is linked to people who share at least one common feature. Also surprising is that they decided to name their blog "folklore.org" as opposed to any other number of names that might have been more accurate or precise to fit their site's content. MacLore, for instance, is the first thing that comes mind, but that would probably raise copyright and other issues.
Another cursory web search will show that the understandings of the term "folklore" are pretty broad, and in many cases, imprecise. For instance, the site Living Folklore is the business site for a company of the same name. The site does not offer much in the way of information about the organization, although it is clear that they have theatrical productions that include clowns. When i wrote to Jacob Devany about the groups connection to folklore, he responded saying,
Our connection to folklore is more traditional than academic, though we have a lot of academic viability. Clowns and tricksters are in every culture around the world, and often relate cultural wisdom through humor, metaphor. We came to our work as artists, performers because of the need to make the stories live through art. In that way we are participants in evolving culture, sharing it, etc. instead of looking at culture in a box like traditional academics often do. We picked the name Living Folklore to remind people that life is a story, and it is our responsibility to live that story with respect to past and future generations, and the web of life on earth. We felt that too many people are disconnected from the life-blood that stories and myths share about who we are.
There is a lot to consider in this statement. My first response is, "well, they must never have worked with folklorists in the field," as it has been a long time since folklorists looked at folklore as "culture in a box." But more importantly, it isn't clear from the site that Living Folklore (the organization) has much to do with folklore at all. They are a performing arts troupe, they do base their work on characters and motifs associated with folklore, and they do cite connections with Native American groups. Yet none of this is necessarily folklore--depending on how you define it.
My question this morning is, what are the associations of the word folklore for others, those "civilians" and others who have not dedicated their lives to the study of folklore? Should folklorists be more involved with the use of the term, and if so, how should we interface with the world, particularly those who feel a strong connection to the idea of folklore, but might not have a connection to folklore in its varied professional contexts?