The Community Engine Blog writes:
In the last year, many centralized services have sprung up to facilitate tagging bookmarks and other web artifacts, for instance flickr, del.icio.us, and most recently feedster. These services have the following characteristics:
* They focus on the value to the individual user. With the best of these services, it easy and even fun to tag and share items. Further, tagging is sufficiently compelling at the individual level to motivate people to do it.
* They provide further value by aggregating tagging and annotation across users. In all of these services, users can see how others are tagging items they are viewing, an aggregation of all of the tags available, and items classified by tag. All of these activities become more valuable the larger the network or group of people participating, leading to a positive network effect.
* Their most obvious potential business model is based on exclusive access to the network. It is not so much that the services lock in individual user data but that you must go to them for the aggregation. For instance, it is very easy to export data from del.icio.us. However, only by using del.icio.us do you gain access to the aggregate of del.icio.us users.
In order to complete the value proposition centralized services offer to users, standalone players need some sort of aggregator to help them combine forces. A well-accepted, standard format that makes the smaller players’ data easy to aggregate will facilitate the emergence of aggregators. xFolk is meant to provide just this format.
Once a microformat like xFolk has been adopted, smaller players will still be very much able to compete with the likes of del.icio.us and flickr on user experience. Other players will emerge to compete with the current leaders on tag aggregation, much like technorati has already started to do at a very small scale. Folksonomy publishers and consumers will win because they have more choice of outlet. Players currently enjoying an advantage based on trying to maintain exclusive access to user networks will see that advantage erode.