I'm still skeptical about anything with the word social in front of it: to some, its meaning is "not" (for example, "social democracy" equals "not democracy"), and for some, "stuff that gets spammed". But after a thousand links at my del.icio.us bookmarks page (which I use to keep track of links to things I'm following but don't have time or inclination to write at length about such as M.I.A., stuff related to me, etc.) and a hundred plus photos Flickr, especially the feature where you can tag photos of people who let you (aka trusted collaborative categorization), I'm increasingly less skeptical.
Today del.icio.us introduced the for: tag, which you use to "send" links to people. It has a "private" RSS feed—probably would have been smarter for them to require your del.icio.us username and password to download it, since it's a) technically possible and b) more secureand anything tagged with that, only people access to that username's account can view all the stuff tagged as such. So, if you want to "send" me something, tag it as
for:sillygwailo and I'll find out about it. One neat thing about it is that for people other than me, they won't know you "sent" it to me, that is, the tag won't show up in the list of tags. Why the word "send" in quotes? Because how hard would it be to email it to me?
Tagging is the new, hot way to categorize things on the Internet, and it still doesn't make as much sense as it could. Maybe it does for an 'in-general' case, and I'm possibly the exception, but if you want to bring something to my attention, but to me, keywords in text are effectively tags. If you mention the phrase "Smart Car" or Fortwo, I'll find out about it if you don't tag it, as the tag won't add much value to the article for me. It will show up in my aggregator for references to Smart Car/Fortwo in news and weblogs. That's for better or for worse, since I had been watching references to Dizzee Rascal, the British rapper, until it became flooded with people's playlists. Great, I know you like the guy enough to have played his song once on your digital music player, but what did you think of it? Same with tags: it's fine that you "added" a tag of it to the bottom of your article or photo (tagging, I'll admit, works better for non-textual media, since it does at least add words I can search for), that still doesn't tell me if you like it or not.
Unless, of course, you tag something with sucks.