If you're a regular on Flickr or Del.icio.us or DailyKos or any number of other sites that have incorporated tagging--the implementation of user-created searchable keywords--then you're very familiar with the technology.
But thanks to a new initiative by Amazon.com, a large number of new people are likely about to get their first taste of tagging. According to the blog Kokogiak, Amazon has formed a "tags team" and has begun using tags on some pages.
The idea, apparently, is to slowly experiment with tags and to give users some power over how certain Amazon products--books, for example--are categorized.
For now, according to Kokogiak, only about half of Amazon's users can even see tags on the site. So if you're one of the half that isn't seeing them, you wouldn't have any way to know the experiment was even happening. But if you're in the other half, then you may have started to see things like "customers tagged this item with" followed by "first tag," "last tag" and then a series of all the tags applied to a specific product.
Ultimately, this is interesting because it may well prove to be the most visible example of a company incorporating tags as a way to bring order to information. Outfits like Flickr are big and have tremendous followings, but nothing compared to Amazon's. And if Amazon can make a go of tagging, that may finally be the tipping point that makes the technology something every Tom, Dick and Harry knows about.
Whether that's a good thing is another question.