The abstract from Margaret Kipp and Grant Campbell's, "Patterns and Inconsistencies in Collaborative Tagging Systems:An Examination of Tagging Practices (PDF)"
This paper analyzes the tagging patterns exhibited by users of del.icio.us, to assess how collaborative tagging supports and enhances traditional ways of classifying and indexing documents. Using frequency data and co-word analysis matrices analyzed by multi-dimensional scaling, the authors discovered that tagging practices to some extent work in ways that are continuous with conventional indexing. Small numbers of tags tend to emerge by unspoken consensus, and inconsistencies follow several predictable patterns that can easily be anticipated. However, the tags also indicated intriguing practices relating to time and task which suggest the presence of an extra dimension in classification and organization, a dimension which conventional systems are unable to facilitate.
Hmmm, sounds like they might have discovered some of the interesting effects I found when looking at Flickr (PDF), but I'll have to read the full paper. Maybe, I should look at applying their techniques to my old data.
[Via search engine land]