If there is one takeaway from two recent Yahoo acquisitions, it’s certainly that they believe in the social computing phenomenon of tagging. Through buying Flickr, Upcoming.org and deli.cio.us – they have brought strong players in the social bookmarking revolution that have witnessed amazing growth over the past few years under the same roof. Clearly, this indicates a specific strategy when it comes to approaching tagging and it places Yahoo on the verge of an extremely powerful position when it comes to shaping Web 2.0, and the future use of tagging in particular. For years the organization of the Internet has been based primarily on two ideas: search and directories. Yahoo has been at the center of both ideas, though they have emerged as the clear leader in directories, having embraced their heritage as a collection of categorized links of Jerry Yang’s favourite sites. On the other side, Google has owned search, enjoying more than double the traffic of Yahoo (it’s closest competitor in search).
With their corporate acquisitions, Yahoo is signalling the rise of a whole new third way of organizing the web. A method based on keyword tagging selected by the creator’s of content and shared through online communities. Content creator selected keyword tags to help organize content was originally the idea behind metatags, but this proved too difficult to police when irreputable sites started using them to push mortgage loans and personal body part enhancements. So the idea seemed to disappear until recently with it’s reappearance through popular online communities around photography, blogs, wikis and forums. And now Yahoo seems to be getting poised to start making this idea "mainstream" through marketing to their considerable audience. And if their strategy is anything like how they have been marketing blogs through their "Top 3 myths about blogs" email (see image at right) and other consumer-friendly pieces introducing tech ideas to a mass audience … it means that tagging seems to have earned it’s first corporate sponsorship.