November 17, 2006
The Social in Social Tagging
Pete Johnston, one of the brains behind Dublin Core, makes the very important point here about tagging - the social dimension.
Much of the debate in the library community is centred on tagging without considering the social dimension, which is the major difference between tagging and traditional forms of classification. All classification of knowledge is of course a social activity, but social tagging has amplified the ratios of classification to the extent that its a different phenomena entirely.
As McLuhan puts it (I was accused of channeling McLuhan in a meeting the other day...), any new medium contains within it the characteristics of an older medium, obscuring what is really new, which is the change in the ratio of experiences it affords. Tagging, as phenomena, contains the existing medium of classification, but it is its extension to far greater ratios of massification which makes it a new medium entirely. More really is different.