There are strong similarities to how wikis and tagging works. Tagging lowers transaction costs for contributions and fixing mistakes. This increases participation and the probability of the right data actually existing in the first place. It also enables a dedicated community to self-govern (and note that as in the case of Wikipedia, the enthusiasm hasn't worn off)
A single tag can be applied in error, and be fixed locally, but that matters less when viewed in the aggregate. Larger patterns arise that are statistically significant.
The other day I was listening to an interview with Malcom Gladwell about his book Blink, which posits that snap decisions are better than carefully considered judgements. Especially when made by experts who have developed a muscle memory of the brain. One of the callers pointed out (at 9:00/30:15) we are better than making snap decisions work better at discrimination (does it belong in the good category or the bad category) between things than characterization (determining the nature of things). Fine, I thought, that's tagging.
Gladwell's theories seemed to run counter to those of another popular book these days, The Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki, which holds that group decisions are better than those of individual experts. But not only are these two views complimentary, Surowiecki and Gladwell are having an open conversation about it this week.
So just think about the emergent intelligence mechanism we are creating with a neural network overlaid on the net. Considered blog posts gain authority through link attention. Consensual wiki pages gain authority over time. Links and snapshots bridge across places, physical and virtual. Tags are applied in the blink of an eye and patterns emerge from the crowd.