What are tags anyway?

I was recording a podcast with Chris Pirillo yesterday when he asked me for my definition of tags. It really drove me into a corner – while I understand them on many different levels and have an idea for tagspaces that would conceivably make the infrastructure simpler, it is really hard to explain them simply.

So I went for the stock answer of tags being keywords plus and then babbled on about explanations and usage (please forgive the babbling, and let me recommend that no one does an interview the day after returning from a 10 day vacation). But this has been bothering me ever since, how do you explain tags to people who don’t use them? I really had not been able to come up with a good short explanation until just a short while ago, so I wanted to put this out there and see what everyone thinks – I sure wish I had this one yesterday instead of today…

“Tags are the keywords/phrases that let you into the conversations about things that matter to you and the labels that we put on items of interest such as blogs, photos, and media so that we and others can more easily find them later.”

How does that work? Suggestions for improvement? Am I close?

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