: Clay Shirky leads off a new group blog on tagging, which I hope and assume will blossom into a salon on what comes after taxonomy. For example….

: We are tagging not just content but also people… and behaviors… and processes…

If I can be assured that I won’t be the victim of spam, impersonation, or privacy violations (big if’s), I want to be tagged so that as I go from site to site, I get what I want: Give me my local content, give me the ads I’m interested in, don’t tell me what I already know, find me the job I want…. It’s not a cookie but a tag I control.

: When I was at the Associated Press for a lunch recently — among a group of smart execs who will have a big impact on the future of news not just from the wire service but also across the industry and the internet — we speculated on the need for a content cookie: a tag that travels with content as it is syndicated.

So, for example, a wire story about, say, Apple could travel with meta data that allows the site that uses it to run contextual ads reliably targeted. And as people read and link to that story in a distributed world, it would be good to gather aggregated meta data, to find out how popular it is, who is reading it, and — most important — what other topics (and audience) are associated with it. This allows people to find the story more effectively in search engines and such and also educates the content provider to improve future stories.

: At Fred Wilson’s Exploding TV lunch a few months ago, we also talked about the need for video (and audio) that is distributed openly (not streamed) via BitTorrent and other means to carry tags and other meta data — content cookies — with them so that sponsor who will kill to support this content — they’ve wanted to turn the internet into TV from the start — can measure audience and demographics and serve and target ads (cue the people tags). At the same time, like magnets, the content should attract tags and meta data from the audience and their behaviors (e.g., people filed it under a topic or people like this watched it).

When this happens, the old networks will truly explode, for this allows you to share content and recommend and distribute it more efficiently than any old network can (witness my favorite Jon Stewart example) and it allows creators to be supported.

: AND: I should have added this and in response to a few frightened comments, I will:

Transparency and control are essential to this. I should control my tags and use them at my will; that’s part of the point of tagging, after all. So I can tell an online service where I am so I can get local news or weather or business listings; that would be convienient. I can tell Google I want results in English and German because I read both (sort of). I can tell employers about me and have them rush to my door because they need a me. That only works if I control the tagging and the use of it is transparent. The same is true of tagging content: It only works if you can see the tags and add them yourself and swarm around the best ones. Sorry. I should have added that.