John Kay reminds us of John Keynes' useful remark:
"Keynes likened professional investment to a beauty contest, in which “it is not a case of choosing those which are really the prettiest, nor even those which average opinion genuinely thinks the prettiest. We have reached the third degree where we devote our intelligence to anticipating what average opinion expects the average opinion to be”. And it is so, to the power of 67."
Kay makes the point when he saw that the Bloomberg information service was carrying 67 different predictions of US GDP growth in the third quarter. Amazing indeed! Even more amazing once one knows how close they are. As always, "It is dangerous to be right, but safe to be conventional."
I am afraid the same averaging pattern is taking place on the web. Take the example of tags. What are tags? Well, according to Technorati:
"Tags: The real-time web, organized by you. Tag is like a subject or category. This page shows the most popular 250 tags in alphabetical order. The bigger the text, the more active it is. Currently tracking 3 million tags. Last updated 12:54 AM PST."
Everything goes as if everyone could declare himself or herself a professional indexer. Not a bad thing in itself after all. You want people to be able to better locate your piece of info. Good also for professional indexers who can update their practices by observing what people do.
But, there is a but! I am afraid people will be more interested in tagging their content not in absolute terms but more often than not in relative terms. For instance they will be tempted to go to Technorati, look at the most popular tags and use them even if they are not exactly relevant. One of the reason they may do so is advertising revenues. Having more visits and clicks is fostering the attractiveness for advertisers.
I am not sure what to expect from this tagging movement. Order may emerge from what seems to be chaos right now. Who knows?