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jon udell puts it far better than i might, so i’ll let him do the talking:

tag vocabularies could evolve in the same way that natural languages do. in the realm of natural language, we coin new words all the time. when we hear a new word that we like, we adopt it — or, perhaps, adapt it… this is how the grassroots semantic web will form. there are just two requirements: we need to be able to speak, and we need to be able to hear others speak.

speaking, in the realm of tag vocabularies, means writing tags, and sometimes creating new ones. hearing means reading tags, and observing how they’re applied to resources and by whom.”