Social tags for regular email?

This morning during my usual drive into work I had an idea. Its probably a horrible idea, but I find myself enamored with it enough for the moment that I’ll post it here.

Tags are pretty cool. For those that don’t know, “tags” are an organizational mechanism where multiple users can “tag” items with keywords which are important to them. For example, I may look at a picture and tag it with “yosemite”, while someone else may tag it as “camping”. Both are relevant, and both can be used for others to find the picture in a meaningful way later. Using both tags (and then weighting the most frequent tags) makes for a dynamic organizational tool where each user “votes” with their tags for how to organize. I’m probably fumbling on the exact definition, but thats some of it.

Some site which use tags well include, rojo, and gmail. It should be noted that traditional apps like Outlook have really had tagging for years, although they’ve buried them in the user interface under “categories”, and there is no way for multiple users to contribute.

So, what if in email, we had a way to associate tags with an email? Each user could “tag” the email, which would send an additional email to the other recipients of the email which would just contain the tag itself. Their mail clients would absorb these tags and automatically add the tag to the user’s database.

This could be acheived using a simple X-header, perhaps
X-Tagging: foo

This would work fantastically well inside the corporation. A large email thread might be about the “3.0 release”, about a feature called “funk”, and also about the “schedule”. Each of the recipients of the thread would receive it, and tag it as appropriate for themselves. However, all of the other recipients of the thread would also have *their* emails tagged with the other user’s tags. Now, any of the folks could search or pivot-view their email with the distributed tags.

I’m sure this idea is not new.

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