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28% of Online Americans have used tagging

The Pew Internet and American Life Project has just put out a new report on the state of tagging in America. It also features a fairly prominent interview with David Weinberger.

The takeaway numbers show that 28% of online Americans have used tagging before and that 7% are active taggers (tagged something ‘yesterday’). The survey spoke with 2,373 adults (1,623 of those being counted as ‘online’, or 68%). The data was collected via telephone throughout December 2006.

“Taggers look like classic early adopters of technology. They are more likely to be under age 40, and have higher levels of education and income.”

Q: Why do you think Internet users are drawn to tagging?

Weinberger: It’s really useful. Compare your traditional computer system to organize your digital photos to using a tagging system. Instead of having to stick a photo into a single folder — say, “trips 2006” — you can easily tag it as “Italy,” “anniversary,” “sunset,” “mountains,” and “no kids.” You can assemble instant virtual albums of all your anniversary photos, or all your photos of all
your trips to Italy, etc.

There’s an altruistic appeal to tagging as well. Tagging at public sites can give you a sense that you’re adding to a shared stream of knowledge. At, or other such sites, tag a page “robotics” and you know that it’s automatically added to the list of pages tagged that way, so anyone else interested in that topic can find it.

In addition, as more people get used to the idea of having their information sliceable and resortable on the fly, we’ll see more intuitive interfaces bloom for very, otherwise, ordinary tasks. This phenomenon is still very young. The world only found in early 2004. Not very long ago.

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