A Pew Internet study out today shows that a pretty impressive number of folks are using tagging, just three years after it became popularized with del.icio.us and Flickr. I remember when I first wrote about tagging nearly two years ago how disruptive and yet foreign the idea seemed.
The main findings of the December survey of 2,400 people:
"28% of internet users have tagged or categorized content online such as photos, news stories or blog posts.
"On a typical day online, 7% of internet users say they tag or categorize online content."
About the same percentage of 18 to 29 year olds (32%) as 30 to 49 year olds (31%) tag.
And about as many women (27%) as men (29%) tag
The Pew study took a different tack from most surveys, including an interview of David Weinberger, a real expert on classification who has a book out shortly, within the study. There is a little on the difference between heirachical classifications, as set out by Dewey, and these folksonomies.
Here's part of the Q&A that I found interesting.
Q: What's the future of tagging?
Weinberger: Because it's useful when there's lots of information and the information is truly meaningful to individuals, it'll be adopted more and more widely. But we're also going to invent new ways to harvest tagging. Flickr, for example, is already able to cluster photographs by subject with impressive accuracy just by analyzing their tags, so that photos of Gerald Ford are separated from photos of Ford Motor cars.
We'll also undoubtedly figure out how to intersect tags with social networks, so that the tags created by people we know and respect have more “weight” when we search for tagged items. In fact, by analyzing how various social groups use tags, we can do better at understanding how seemingly different worldviews map to one another.