I've been enjoying the smart discussion about folksonomies and tagging at Many-2-Many. Danah and Clay have differing views on the subject:
First, donâ€™t forget Lakoffâ€™s Women, Fire and Dangerous Things. Classification schemes are always culturally dependent based on how people organize information. There is nothing universal about the terms that we use, the relationship between those terms and the meanings behind them. Many terms are contested, used differently by different populations for different reasons and otherwise inconsistent.
You want cultural dependence? The Library of Congress, in its top level categories for geographic regions, lists â€œThe Balkan Penninsulaâ€?? as one main entity, and â€œAsiaâ€?? as another. Contested terms? Try finding queer literature in any library classification scheme. And so on. Folksonomic tagging improves on this by exposing cultural dependence and contestedness, rather than denying its existence, or hiding it by fiat.
I get this feeling that the buzz around tags right now is warranted. I think we could be watching the liftoff of something big. If not, I bet we'll still get to see more tag fights.