Friday, September 14, 2012

ontology & taxonomy

shirky on ontology

Ontology is Overrated: Categories, Links, and Tags

I also want to convince you that what we're seeing when we see the Web is actually a radical break with previous categorization strategies, rather than an extension of them. The second part of the talk is more speculative, because it is often the case that old systems get broken before people know what's going to take their place. (Anyone watching the music industry can see this at work today.) That's what I think is happening with categorization.What I think is coming instead are much more organic ways of organizing information than our current categorization schemes allow, based on two units -- the link, which can point to anything, and the tag, which is a way of attaching labels to links. The strategy of tagging -- free-form labeling, without regard to categorical constraints -- seems like a recipe for disaster, but as the Web has shown us, you can extract a surprising amount of value from big messy data sets.
That strategy of designing categories to cover possible cases in advance is what I'm primarily concerned with, because it is both widely used and badly overrated in terms of its value in the digital world.

maybe it's not expensive and time consuming if we gyrate back and forth between human and machine.
for example.. for what we're doing.. it's ok, and good even, if we connect two people, they meet up, only to find out that one meant the country and the other meant the plate. if they know they get another try tomorrow. and that it only took 10 min out of their day today. now it's them caring enough to refine their verbiage. [thinking 50 first dates, groundhog day]

this is bound up in .. people caring enough to tweak their verbiage, to not needing a reminder... because they start to believe/see the benefits of being more themselves..
i think a big part of it is that gyration.. machine to man to machine...
i don't know.

The essence of a book isn't the ideas it contains. The essence of a book is "book." Thinking that library catalogs exist to organize concepts confuses the container for the thing contained.

maybe it's back to that idea of disengaging from a role, being a thumbprint. maybe that's why ... people signing up to do things on a google doc.. they need reminders...
if it mattered.. if it was a perpetual beta.. meaning.. ground hog day-ish... they'd get to do nothing.. a see those results... and they'd get to go all out.. and see those results..
it would come down to what they made it.. with no outside motivation needed.. except that what they put in ... yielded a different day...?

from wikipedia:

Taxonomy (from ancient Greek τάξις taxis, arrangement, and νομία nomiamethod)[1] is the academic discipline of defining groups of biological organisms on the basis of shared characteristics and giving names to those groups. Each group is given a rank and groups of a given rank can be aggregated to form a super group of higher rank and thus create a hierarchical classification.[2][3] The groups created through this process are referred to as taxa (singular taxon). An example of a modern classification is the one published in 2009 by the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group for all living flowering plant families (the APG III system).[4]

Ontology (from onto-, from the Greek ὤν, ὄντος "being; that which is", present participle of the verb εἰμί, eimi "be", and -λογία-logia:sciencestudytheory) is the philosophical study of the nature of beingexistence, or reality, as well as the basic categories of being and their relations. Traditionally listed as a part of the major branch of philosophy known as metaphysics, ontology deals with questions concerning what entities exist or can be said to exist, and how such entities can be grouped, related within a hierarchy, and subdivided according to similarities and differences.[citation needed]