Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Classification

Why Dewey's Decimal System is prejudiced appears in the latest JOHO, Journal of the Hyperlinked Organization. This is a personal newsletter from David Weinberger. (Thanks to the commenter for clearing up the person responsible.) He is the author of The Cluetrain Manifesto: The End of Business as Usual and Small Pieces Loosely Joined: A Unified Theory of the Web
This highlights two ways our taxonomies are changing now that we're shaking off the physical and moving to the electronic. First, the physical world is so hard to change that a taxonomy that's offensive in its inherent values - and all taxonomies have values baked into them - may be worth maintaining simply because no taxonomy is worse than an offensive taxonomy. Second, the most important job of the new generation of librarians is to build into information objects sufficient metadata that any organization can create its own taxonomy. Taxonomies are tools, so there's no such thing as the One Right Taxonomy, just as can-openers aren't more right than asphalt spreaders. By building in sufficient metadata - no easy task - diverse groups now and forever can build taxonomies that suit their needs.
Folks other than librarians are considering the organization of information.

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