Tom Coates has been thinking about the way people use tags and what it all means:
Matt Webb and I did a fair amount of work around tagging with a project called Phonetags that I never get time to properly write up. As we were working on it, we came to realise that each of us had a radically different understanding of what a tag was. Matt's concept was quite close to the way tagging is used in del.icio.us -- with an individual the only person who could tag their stuff and with an understanding that the act of tagging was kind of an act of filing. My understanding was heavily influenced by Flickr's approach -- which I think is radically different -- you can tag other people's photos for a start, and you're clearly challenged to tag up a photo with any words that make sense to you. It's less of a filing model than an annotative one.
He suggests a way to test whether people are shifting toward using one approach over the other by examining changes in the way links are tagged over time. Interesting idea. Take a look.
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