On Jan. 24, Jupiter Research analyst Barry Parr said of tagging:
“Tagging is moving against the tide of the net. …In a game of tag, no one wants to be the one doing the tagging. Tagging requires a little extra unnecessary effort that most folks are not only unwilling to make, but aren’t prepared to learn.”
I think he’s right… And I think he’s wrong, too…
Yes, tagging is a social phenomenon that derives certain benefits from mass adoption and widespread voluntary behavior. However, tagging provides different benefits when used as a tool for managing information (that is, with nary a thought to public sharing) by individuals and groups.
More importantly, tagging is used by enthusiasts, experts, researchers, or opinion leaders to create and share unique bodies of content and context. Even if only a miniscule percentage of net users employ tagging in this manner, those few people can have tremendous impact.
So to me, it doesn’t matter much whether vast numbers of people start tagging regularly. This practice definitely isn’t for everyone, and you should only do it if it suits you.
It is possible that popular adoption of tagging might decline in the future. (I doubt it, but we’ll see.) If that happens, we would lose some of benefits of this tool. However, I am convinced that a surprising number of individuals still would continue to embrace tagging as a way to create and share their own collections of information and context. It’s just too easy and valuable for that purpose.
This isn’t strictly a numbers game. The value of tagging is about more than simply how many people tag. It’s also about who is using it well even influentially.