Useful summary of the ways in which tags and folksonomies work, particularly commenting on the way tags on delicious tap into the power curve.
“The job of tags isn’t to organize all the world’s information into tidy categories,” said Stewart Butterfield, one of Flickr’s co-founders. “It’s to add value to the giant piles of data that are already out there.”
In a broad folksonomy, Vander Wal continued, there is the benefit of the network effect and the power curve because so many people are involved. An example is the website of contemporary design magazine Moco Loco, to which 166 Delicious users had applied the tag “design.”
Conversely, Vander Wal explained, Flickr’s system is a narrow folksonomy, because rather than many people tagging the same communal items, as with Delicious, small numbers of users tag individual items. Thus many users tag items, but of those, only a small number will tag a particular item.
“You don’t have quite that capability of the power curve,” said Vander Wal, “but you do have that ability of adding metadata to an object.”