robertogreco + taxonomy   80

Fans Are Better Than Tech at Organizing Information Online | WIRED
"KUDOS TO THE fans. One of the nominees for the Hugo Awards this year is Archive of Our Own, a fanfiction archive containing nearly 5 million fanworks—about the size of the English Wikipedia, and several years younger. It's not just the fanfic, fanart, fanvids, and other fanworks, impressive as they are, that make Archive of Our Own worthy of one of the biggest honors in science fiction and fantasy. It's also the architecture of the site itself.

At a time when we're trying to figure out how to make the internet livable for humans, without exploiting other humans in the process, AO3 (AO3, to its friends) offers something the rest of tech could learn from.

Here's a problem that AO3 users, like the rest of the internet, encounter every day: How do you find a particular thing you're interested in, while filtering out all the other stuff you don't care about? Most websites end up with tags of some sort. I might look through a medical journal database for articles tagged "cataracts," search a stock photo site for pictures tagged "businesspeople," or click on a social media hashtag to see what people are saying about the latest episode of #GameOfThrones.

Tags are useful but they also have problems. Although "cataracts," "businesspeople," and #GameOfThrones might seem like the most obvious tags to me, someone else might have tagged these same topics "cataract surgery," "businessperson," and #GoT. Another person might have gone with "nuclear sclerosis" (a specific type of cataract), "office life," and #Daenerys. And so on.

There are two main ways of dealing with the problem of tagging proliferation. One is to be completely laissez-faire—let posters tag whatever they want and hope searchers can figure out what words they need to look for. It's easy to set up, but it tends to lead to an explosion of tags, as posters stack on more tags just in case and searchers don't know which one is best. Laissez-faire tags are common on social media; if I post an aesthetic photo of a book I'm reading on Instagram, I have over 20 relevant tags to choose from, such as #book #books #readers #reader #reading #reads #goodreads #read #booksofig #readersofig #booksofinstagram #readersofinstagram #readstagram #bookstagram #bookshelf #bookshelves #bookshelfie #booknerd #bookworm #bookish #bookphotography #bookcommunity #booklover #booksbooksbooks #bookstagrammer #booktography #readers #readabook #readmorebooks #readingtime #alwaysreading #igreads #instareads #amreading. "Am reading" indeed—reading full paragraphs of tags.

The other solution to the proliferation of competing tags is to implement a controlled, top-down, rigid tagging system. Just as the Dewey Decimal System has a single subcategory for Shakespeare so library browsers can be sure to find Hamlet near Romeo and Juliet, rigid tagging systems define a single list of non-overlapping tags and require that everyone use them. They're more popular in professional and technical databases than in public-facing social media, but they're a nice idea in theory—if you only allow the tag "cataract" then no one will have to duplicate effort by also searching under "cataracts" and "cataract surgery."

The problem is rigid tags take effort to learn; it's hard to convince the general public to memorize a gigantic taxonomy. Also, they become outdated. Tagging systems are a way of imposing order on the real world, and the world doesn't just stop moving and changing once you've got your nice categories set up. Take words related to gender and sexuality: The way we talk about these topics has evolved a lot in recent decades, but library and medical databases have been slower to keep up.

The Archive of Our Own has none of these problems. It uses a third tagging system, one that blends the best elements of both styles.

On AO3, users can put in whatever tags they want. (Autocomplete is there to help, but they don't have to use it.) Then behind the scenes, human volunteers look up any new tags that no one else has used before and match them with any applicable existing tags, a process known as tag wrangling. Wrangling means that you don't need to know whether the most popular tag for your new fanfic featuring Sherlock Holmes and John Watson is Johnlock or Sherwatson or John/Sherlock or Sherlock/John or Holmes/Watson or anything else. And you definitely don't need to tag your fic with all of them just in case. Instead, you pick whichever one you like, the tag wranglers do their work behind the scenes, and readers looking for any of these synonyms will still be able to find you.

AO3's trick is that it involves humans by design—around 350 volunteer tag wranglers in 2019, up from 160 people in 2012—who each spend a few hours a week deciding whether new tags should be treated as synonyms or subsets of existing tags, or simply left alone. AO3's Tag Wrangling Chairs estimate that the group is on track to wrangle over 2 million never-before-used tags in 2019, up from around 1.5 million in 2018.

Laissez-faire and rigid tagging systems both fail because they assume too much—that users can create order from a completely open system, or that a predefined taxonomy can encompass every kind of tag a person might ever want. When these assumptions don't pan out, it always seems to be the user's fault. AO3's beliefs about human nature are more pragmatic, like an architect designing pathways where pedestrians have begun wearing down the grass, recognizing how variation and standardization can fit together. The wrangler system is one where ordinary user behavior can be successful, a system which accepts that users periodically need help from someone with a bird's-eye view of the larger picture.

Users appreciate this help. According to Tag Wrangling Chair briar_pipe, "We sometimes get users who come from Instagram or Tumblr or another unmoderated site. We can tell that they're new to AO3 because they tag with every variation of a concept—abbreviations, different word order, all of it. I love how excited people get when they realize they don't have to do that here."

When I tweeted about AO3's tags a while back, I received many comments from people wishing that their professional tagging systems were as good, including users of news sites, library catalogs, commercial sales websites, customer help-desk websites, and PubMed (the most prominent database of medical research). The other websites that compared favorably to AO3 were also on the fannish side of the spectrum and used a similar system of human-facilitated tag wrangling: librarything (a website where you can list all your books) and Danbooru (an anime imageboard). But, we might ask ourselves, why use humans? Couldn't machine learning or AI or another hot tech buzzword wrangle the tags instead?

One reason for the humans is that AO3 began developing its routines in 2007, when the tech wasn't as advanced and they had a lot of willing volunteers. But even now, tag wranglers are skeptical that a machine could take over their tasks. One wrangler, who goes by the handle spacegandalf, pointed me to the example of a character from an audio drama called The Penumbra Podcast who didn't have an official name in text for several episodes after he was introduced. Yet people were writing fanfic—and trying to tag it by character—before they had any name to tag it with.

Because spacegandalf had listened to this podcast—AO3 deliberately recruits and assigns tag wranglers who are members of the fandoms that they wrangle for—they had the necessary context to know that "Big Guy Jacket Man Or Whatever His Name Is" referred to the same person as his slightly more official moniker "the Man In the Brown Jacket" and his later, official name, Jet Sikuliaq (and that none of these names should be confused with a different mysteriously named character from a different audio drama, the Man in the Tan Jacket from Welcome to Night Vale).

With all these tags properly wrangled, I can not only find "Big Guy Jacket Man" and "the Man in the Brown Jacket" and "Jet Sikuliaq" all in the same search results, but I can also drill down and search for crossover fic containing both the Man in the Brown Jacket and the Man in the Tan Jacket—and, one hopes, an entire world of colored-jacketed friends. Sadly, there is none, but at least I know I have a conclusive answer.

Without tag wranglers, I'd be stuck doing an ordinary search for "jacket" or "jacket man"—the first of which gives me hundreds of results about other irrelevant characters who happen to wear a jacket this one time, and the second of which misses some genuinely relevant results about our jacket men of interest.

Another of the Tag Wrangling Chairs, Qem, also thinks that machine tag wrangling is unlikely, pointing to machine translation as a cautionary tale. “There are terms in fandom which, while commonly understood in context among fans, would not be when you take it out of the fandom context," Qem says. For example, seemingly innocuous words like "slash" and "lemon" do not refer to a punctuation mark or a citrus fruit in fannish contexts, and tag wranglers are already well aware that machine translation can only manage the literal, not the subcultural meanings. Qem's co-chair, briar_pipe, is slightly more sanguine: "I personally think it might be interesting to have AI/human partnerships for this type of data work, but you have to have humans who are aware of AI limitations and willing to call AIs on mistakes, or else that partnership is useless."

AI certainly does have limitations. There always seems to be a new report of products that claim to be AI—Amazon's Mechanical Turk, Facebook's M, Google Duplex, the Expensify receipt scanner—but in fact often involve hordes of poorly paid, undercompensated, invisibilized humans performing "ghost work" that is attributed to AI.

The tag wranglers on AO3 aren't paid at all. The archive's parent organization, the Organization for Transformative Works, is a nonprofit, and everyone involved in the project is a volunteer. But … [more]
tagging  folksonomy  fandom  taxonomy  2019  archives  archiveofourown  gretchenmcculloch  cv  internet  web  online  collaboration  ao3  tagwrangling 
8 weeks ago by robertogreco
Are.na / Blog – Towards A Library Without Walls
"Collaboration has also become key to the way we conceive associative indexing on today’s version of the Internet, which could not have been anticipated by Bush at today’s scale. In “As We May Think,” Bush does acknowledge the possibility of sharing links generated by the Memex in the example of a researcher reproducing a trail on the Turkish bow for inclusion in a colleague’s “more general” trail.6 However, the scale of a hypertextual tool such as Are.na, which has over 20,000 users, far exceeds the one-to-one exchange Bush envisioned for his Memex, with significant implications for associative indexing. This phenomenon has its own neologism, “crowdsourcing,” wherein large numbers of users, most typically through the Internet, contribute to an information platform, as seen widely from commercial endeavors such as Google-owned Waze to non-profit projects such as Wikipedia. The relative advantages and disadvantages of crowdsourcing for knowledge production are the subject of much literature but could be briefly alluded to here in terms of diversity of material, collective intelligence, increased scale, and lack of consolidated control. But at its most promising, crowdsourcing creates the potential for rich communities that can form around information sharing, as is well articulated by Paul Duguid and John Seely Brown writing on the social life of information:
“[D]ocuments do not merely carry information, they help make it, structure it, and validate it. More intriguing, perhaps, documents also help structure society, enabling social groups to form, develop, and maintain a sense of shared identity. Viewing documents as mere information carriers overlooks this social role.”7
"



"Considering the ways in which Are.na operates within a community of artists and culturally-engaged individuals, contrasting Are.na with Bush’s Memex highlights the importance of conceiving how knowledge forms, knowledge tools, and knowledge communities all interplay with one another. By acknowledging other forms of knowledge beyond the scientific and better understanding the role sociality plays in our contemporary experience of information, we can better define what constitutes information and how best to describe, classify, organize, and make it accessible as librarians. Rather than prioritizing static information, fixed organization, and solitary experiences as the conventional library environment is known to do, those of us who work in LIS can adopt the more boundless strategies that we encounter in hypertextual tools such as Are.na for the benefit of the communities that we serve, essentially working towards becoming a library without the brick walls that Lampland and Star refer to in regards to infrastructure that fails to serve user needs. Parallel to thinking about what Are.na might mean for librarianship, we can look to extant projects such as the Prelinger Library and the Sitterwerk’s Kunstbibliothek, whose methods for organizing their material also exist as an alternative to more traditionally-organized libraries.

So to expand on Sam’s question and its inverse: What could a reference interview that uses Are.na look like? What would happen if books in an OPAC were nodes that could be linked by users? And what if the discovery tools we design actually encouraged research that is social, elusive, and nonlinear?"
are.na  libraries  internet  web  online  2017  karlywildenhaus  mlis  archives  archiving  marthalampland  susanleighstar  hypercad  hypertext  vannevarbush  paulotlet  tednelson  stéphanemallarmé  knowledge  information  clissification  taxonomy  accessibility  librarians  social  memex  paulduguid  johnseelybrown  crowdsourcing  aswemaythink  connections  collaboration 
june 2018 by robertogreco
General Vagaries. • winchysteria: ossacordis: crockpotcauldron: ...
"there’s something endlessly hilarious to me about the phrase “hotly debated” in an academic context. like i just picture a bunch of nerds at podiums & one’s like “of course there was a paleolithic bear cult in Northern Eurasia” and another one just looks him in the eye and says “i’l kill you in real life, kevin”

>>

[image

"The Milton scholars screamed and argued about how the serpent was supposed to move before it crawled on its belly. Dr. Matthews, enraged that Dr. Goldstein could believe the serpent bounced around on the coiled end of its tail, flipped over the conference table. "Satan is not a fucking pogo stick!" he howled."]

>>

I heard a story once about two microbiologists at a conference who took it out into the parking lot to have a literal fistfight over taxonomy.

>>

have i told this story yet? idk but it’s good. The Orangutan Story:

my american lit professor went to this poe conference. like to be clear this is a man who has a doctorate in being a book nerd. he reads moby dick to his four-year-old son. and poe is one of the cornerstones of american literature, right, so this should be right up his alley?

wrong. apparently poe scholars are like, advanced. there is a branch of edgar allen poe scholarship that specifically looks for coded messages based on the number of words per line and letters per word poe uses. my professor, who has a phd in american literature, realizes he is totally out of his depth. but he already committed his day to this so he thinks fuck it! and goes to a panel on racism in poe’s works, because that’s relevant to his interests.

background info: edgar allen poe was a broke white alcoholic from virginia who wrote horror in the first half of the 19th century. rule 1 of Horror Academia is that horror reflects the cultural anxieties of its time (see: my other professor’s sermon abt how zombie stories are popular when people are scared of immigrants, or that purge movie that was literally abt the election). since poe’s shit is a product of 1800s white southern culture, you can safely assume it’s at least a little about race. but the racial subtext is very open to interpretation, and scholars believe all kinds of different things about what poe says about race (if he says anything), and the poe stans get extremely tense about it.

so my professor sits down to watch this panel and within like five minutes a bunch of crusty academics get super heated about poe’s theoretical racism. because it’s academia, though, this is limited to poorly concealed passive aggression and forceful tones of inside voice. one professor is like “this isn’t even about race!” and another professor is like “this proves he’s a racist!” people are interrupting each other. tensions are rising. a panelist starts saying that poe is like writing a critique of how racist society was, and the racist stuff is there to prove that racism is stupid, and that on a metaphorical level the racist philosophy always loses—

then my professor, perhaps in a bid to prove that he too is a smart literature person, loudly calls: “BUT WHAT ABOUT THE ORANGUTAN?”

some more background: in poe’s well-known short story “the murder in the rue morgue,” two single ladies—a lovely old woman and her lovely daughter who takes care of her, aka super vulnerable and respectable people—are violently killed. the murderer turns out to be not a person, but an orangutan brought back by a sailor who went to like burma or something. and it’s pretty goddamn racially coded, like they reeeeally focus on all this stuff about coarse hairs and big hands and superhuman strength and chattering that sounds like people talking but isn’t actually. if that’s intentional, then he’s literally written an analogy about how black people are a threat to vulnerable white women, which is classic white supremacist shit. BUT if he really only meant for it to be an orangutan, then it’s a whole other metaphor about how colonialism pillages other countries and brings their wealth back to europe and that’s REALLY gonna bite them in the ass one day. klansman or komrade? it all hangs on this.

so the place goes dead fucking silent as every giant ass poe stan in the room is immediately thrust into a series of war flashbacks: the orangutan argument, violently carried out over seminar tables, in literary journals, at graduate student house parties, the spittle flying, the wine and coffee spilled, the friendships torn—the red faces and bulging veins—curses thrown and teaching posts abandoned—panels just like this one fallen into chaos—distant sirens, skies falling, the dog-eared norton critical editions slicing through the air like sabres—the textual support! o, the quotes! they gaze at this madman in numb disbelief, but he could not have known. nay, he was a literary theorist, a 17th-century man, only a visitor to their haunted land. he had never heard the whistle of the mortars overhead. he had never felt the cold earth under his cheek as he prayed for god’s deliverance. and yet he would have broken their fragile peace and brought them all back into the trenches.

much later, when my professor told this story to a poe nerd friend, the guy said the orangutan thing was a one of the biggest landmines in their field. he said it was a reliable discussion ruiner that had started so many shouting matches that some conferences had an actual ban on bringing it up.

so my professor sits there for a second, still totally clueless. then out of the dead silence, the panel moderator stands up in his tweed jacket and yells, with the raw panic of a once-broken man:

WE! DO NOT! TALK ABOUT! THE ORANGUTAN!"
conferences  via:robinsonmeyer  2018  academia  arguments  debate  humor  orangutans  racism  disagreement  rules  taxonomy  johnmilton  edgarallanpoe  serpents  highered  highereducation  education 
february 2018 by robertogreco
ToBoldlyGo | dovewithscales: hyratel: dovewithscales: ...
"Mammals both produce milk and have hair. Ergo, a coconut is a mammal.

I know you’re being facetious, but this is an actual issue with morphology-based phylogeny.

*leans over and whispers to person beside me* what are they talking about

*leans over and whispers back* Human ability to quantify and categorize natural phenomena is sketchy at best and wildly misleading at worst

consider the coconut

this reminds me of that time Plato defined humans as “featherless bipeds” and Diogenes ran in with a plucked chicken screaming “BEHOLD A MAN!”

i love how you say “it reminds me of that time” like you were there.

listen if an immortal feels brave and supported enough to come out we should respect them

This post is a journey

1 Reblog = 1 Respect

I maintain that humans started attempting classify animals, and some god or another made the platypus, and is still laughing.

Zeus: *hits joint* okay so like. It’s gonna have a duck bill right. But an otter body okay? And then a beaver tail. It’s a mammal. But. It lays eggs!

Hades: wait wait dude. Give it. Give it poison. Make it poisonous

Athena: You mean venomous, and make sure the eggs have both reptile and bird traits.

Hermes: *takes the joint* Give it extra senses.

Poseidon: It should be aquatic.

I MEAN where’s the lie

Demeter: … And where exactly do you expect me to put this?

Everyone: Australia."

[via: https://twitter.com/chappelltracker/status/929779247501266944 ]
humor  animals  taxonomy  classification  phylogeny  morphology  tumblr  greekmyths  platypus  coconuts 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Why Are the Scientists Who Classify Life So Mean to Their Dead?
"The open nature of the science of classification virtually guarantees fights."



"Taxonomy, the art and science of classifying life, really should be a civilized pursuit. It encourages solitude, concentration, care. It rewards a meticulous attention to detail. And while it might occasionally receive some good-natured ribbing from the popular culture—think of all those butterfly collectors stumbling around in Far Side cartoons—it continues to play a vital role at the foundations of modern biology.

It can come as a bit of a surprise, then, when that veneer of civilization cracks, and the field reveals itself to be one of the more contentious arenas in science, a place where arguments over names and classifications rage through the literature for decades. This is both a strength, as challenges to current classification keep the field dynamic and relevant, and an expression of its hardwired vulnerabilities."



"More than twenty years too late for his scientific reputation, and after having done an amount of injury to entomology almost inconceivable in its immensity, Francis Walker has passed from among us.”

Walker’s two-page obituary, in the November 1874 issue of the Entomologist’s Monthly Magazine, sits between a short research note (“Emmelesia unifasciata three years in the pupa state”) and some words on the passing of William Lello (“He leaves a considerable collection of Lepidoptera ...”). Written anonymously, it pulled no punches when it came to the late taxonomist’s legacy: The vast majority of the tens of thousands of new species he proposed were “objects of derision for all conscientious entomologists.” More than once, the obituarist referred to Walker’s work simply as the “evil.”

And yet, the man’s career had begun with promise. His first work, a well-regarded study of the tiny wasps known as chalcidids, had “marked an era in the study of its subject.” Despite considerable inherited wealth, he longed for a permanent position at one of Britain’s major collections. When that position failed to materialize, Walker, “in an unlucky moment,” instead took up the first in a long series of contract appointments cataloging insects for the British Museum.

This is where the trouble began. Moving from drawer to drawer through the collection, Walker took it upon himself to describe what he believed to be thousands of new species in virtually all major groups of insects, a task requiring skills far beyond what he, or anyone else, possessed. “The result,” the obituarist wrote, “was what might have been expected. The work was done mechanically: ‘new genera and species’ were erected in the most reckless manner ...” Through a Rafinesquean combination of industry and incompetence, the humble Englishman had begun to single-handedly wreak havoc on the classification of the world’s insects.

As Walker published more and more dubious names, in wider and wider groups, the entomological establishment grew ever louder in its condemnation. By the time he had exhausted most of the major insect orders, his once considerable “entomological reputation [had been] worn to shreds.” Walker, however, “appeared to be utterly indifferent to anything that could be hurled at him ... In his social relations he was amiability itself ...” When he died, at 65, the entomological community mourned the gentle soul who had walked the halls of the British Museum, but also let out a collective sigh of relief. “We earnestly hope,” the obituarist added, “that never again will it fall to us, nor to our successors in entomological journalism, to have to write such an obituary notice as this.”

But Walker’s name wouldn’t be the last to live in taxonomic infamy. In fact, his obituary seems downright tactful beside Claude Morley’s note, from 1913, on the death of Peter Cameron, an infamous describer of Central American insects.

“Peter Cameron is dead, as was announced by most of the halfpenny papers on December 4th. What can we say of his life? Nothing; for it concerns us in no way. What shall we say of his work? Much, for it is entirely ours, and will go down to posterity as probably the most prolific and chaotic output of any individual for many years past.”

Cameron, a Scottish amateur with a penchant for Central American insects, left a legacy that echoed for decades. Fifty years after his death, Richard Bohart, a taxonomist at the University of California Davis, would reiterate that the entomologist’s “work was careless, his descriptions poor, his locality data were often vague or omitted, his generic assignments were characteristically erroneous and contradictory, and he eschewed illustrations.” Despite all that, or perhaps because of it, Bohart wound up with the thankless task of sorting through Cameron’s North American contributions to a small group of wasps known as the Odynerini. Of the hundred or so names Cameron proposed within the group, almost all, Bohart found, were invalid.

Meanwhile, modern taxonomy has its own outliers. In 2006, over 50 scientists signed an open letter to the administration of the University of Utrecht protesting the work of one Dewanand Makhan, an amateur entomologist who frequently listed the university as his institutional affiliation. (Makhan was a contract employee at the university’s herbarium, and not a member of the academic staff; his publications now list a personal address.)

“For many years,” they wrote, “Dr. Makhan has been a growing threat to taxonomy and zoological nomenclature, publishing a large number of new genera and species in groups as wide ranging as beetles, spiders, and gastropods. These publications are uniformly poor in quality and scholarship.” A group of ant experts put it more bluntly: A 2007 publication by Makhan, they wrote, was “one of the most inadequate papers that has ever been produced in ant taxonomy.”

Makhan’s descriptions are notoriously short on detail. In place of clear scientific diagrams, he illustrates much of his work with blurry, out-of-focus photographs. Most frustrating to fellow entomologists, many of Makhan’s “new” species are instantly recognizable, at least to them, as already described insects. Despite numerous articles and blog posts on the so-called “Makhan problem,” new publications continue to appear, most in a small Australian journal without a traditional peer-review process. (As recently as last year, Makhan described a new species of waterbeetle, Desmopachria barackobamai—named, of course, for the 44th president of the United States.)


The story is a familiar one, but with a modern twist. That’s because the growth of so-called “vanity journals”—publications that look to all appearances like mainstream scientific outlets, but lack rigorous peer-review—has produced new avenues for what some have taken to calling “taxonomic vandalism.” As traditional boundaries between experts and amateurs dissolve in the face of digital publishing, more opportunities than ever exist for novel voices in science, journalism, and politics. Unfortunately, these opportunities come at a cost, as a growing tide of information challenges the discriminatory abilities of scientists and lay readers alike.

While discussions underway now could revise the Codes to include stricter controls on which publications count for classificatory changes, many taxonomists are wary of doing anything that might deter amateur contributions. With so many species left to discover, and with existential threats to biodiversity looming, they realize the field needs as much help as it can get.

In the struggle to balance its highest ideals with its unruliest practicioners, taxonomy teaches us an enduring lesson about science as a whole. While we like to think of that enterprise as an antidote to fallibility—a way of seeing that seeks, through meticulous care and relentless examination, to minimize our tendency toward error—it remains fundamentally, inescapably human. Somewhere in between is where real progress happens."
science  taxonomy  anselpayne  biology  2016  biodiversity  franciswalker  entomology  williamlello  claudemorley  petercameron  richardbohart  dewanandmakhan  amateurs  fallability  humans  zoology  constantinerafinesque  asagray  classification  taxonomists  iczn  naming  names  nomenclature  edmerrill 
april 2016 by robertogreco
The Taxonomy of Candy - YouTube
"In our previous video 'What is a Species?,' we talked about the many ways scientists approach classifying organisms. So, I thought it'd be fun to get a few scientists from The Field Museum to apply their taxonomic know-how on something we're all familiar with: candy! How would you have organized these various confections?

This experiment in classification can be used with anything from pasta, to cell phones, beverages, cereals... seriously, start asking your friends and family if they think Pepsi and Coca-Cola are synonymous species, or similar via convergent evolution, and you're sure to have a lively Tuesday night.

Thanks to Drs Olivier Rieppel, Janet Voight, Margaret Thayer, and Larry Heaney for entertaining this very serious topic."
taxonomy  classification  candy  food  2016  science  fieldmuseum  olivierrieppel  janetvoight  margaretthayer  larryheaney 
april 2016 by robertogreco
Metalogue: Why Do Things Get in a Muddle? | Gregory Bateson
"Metalogue: Why Do Things Get in a Muddle? | Gregory Bateson

Daughter: Daddy, why do things get in a muddle?

Father: What do you mean? Things? Muddle?

D: Well, people spend a lot of time tidying things, but they never seem to spend time muddling them. Things just seem to get in a muddle by themselves. And then people have to tidy them up again.

F: But do your things get in a muddle if you don’t touch them?

D: No — not if nobody touches them. But if you touch them — or if anybody touches them — they get in a muddle and it’s a worse muddle if it isn’t me.

F: Yes — that’s why I try to keep you from touching the things on my desk. Because my things get in a worse muddle if they are touched by somebody who isn’t me.

D: But do people always muddle other people’s things? Why do they, Daddy?

F: Now, wait a minute. It’s not so simple. First of all, what do you mean by a muddle?

D: I mean — so I can’t find things, and so it looks all muddled up. The way it is when nothing is straight.

F: Well, but are you sure you mean the same thing by muddle that anybody else would mean?

D: But, Daddy, I’m sure I do — because I’m not a very tidy person and if I say things are in a muddle, then I’m sure everybody else would agree with me.

F: All right — but do you think you mean the same thing by “tidy” that. other people would? If your mummy makes your things tidy, do you know where to find them?

D: Hmm . . . sometimes — because, you see, I know where she puts things when she tidies up.

F: Yes, I try to keep her away from tidying my desk, too. I’m sure that she and I don’t mean the same thing by “tidy.”

D: Daddy, do you and I mean the same thing by “tidy?”

F: I doubt it, my dear — I doubt it.

D: But, Daddy, isn’t that a funny thing — that everybody means the same when they say “muddled” but everybody means something different by “tidy.” But “tidy” is the opposite of “muddled,” isn’t it?

F: Now we begin to get into more difficult questions. Let’s start again from the beginning. You said “Why do things always get in a muddle?” Now we have made a step or two — and let’s change the question to “Why do things get in a state which Cathy calls ‘not tidy?’ “ Do you see why I want to make that change?

D: ... Yes, I think so — because if I have a special meaning for “tidy” then some of other people’s “tidies” will look like muddles to me — even if we do agree about most of what we call muddles.

F: That’s right. Now — let’s look at what you call tidy. When your paint box is put in a tidy place, where is it?

D: Here on the end of this shelf.

F: Okay — now if it were anywhere else?

D: No, that would not be tidy.

F: What about the other end of the shelf, here? Like this?

D: No, that’s not where it belongs, and anyhow it would have to be straight, not all crooked the way you put it.

F: Oh — in the right place and straight.

D: Yes.

F: Well, that means that there are only very few places which are “tidy” for your paint box.

D: Only one place —

F: No — very few places, because if I move it a little bit, like this, it is still tidy.

D: All right — but very, very few places.

F: All right, very, very few places. Now what about the teddy bear and your doll, and the Wizard of Oz and your sweater, and your shoes? It’s the same for all the things, isn’t it, that each thing has only a very, very few places which are “tidy” for that thing?

D: Yes, Daddy — but the Wizard of Oz could be anywhere on that shelf. And Daddy — do you know what? I hate, hate it when my books get all mixed up with your books and Mummy’s books.

F : Yes, I know. (Pause)

D: Daddy, you didn’t finish. Why do my things get the way I say isn’t tidy?

F: But I have finished — it’s just because there are more ways which you call “untidy” than there are ways which you call “tidy.”

D: But that isn’t a reason why.

F: But, yes, it is. And it is the real and only and very important reason.

D: Oh, Daddy! Stop it.

F: No, I’m not fooling. That is the reason, and all of science is hooked up with that reason. Let’s take another example. If I put some sand in the bottom of this cup and put some sugar on the top of it, and now stir it with a teaspoon, the sand and the sugar will get mixed up, won’t they?

D: Yes, but, Daddy, is it fair to shift over to talking about “mixed up” when we started with “muddled up?”

F: Hmm . . . I wonder . .. but I think so — Yes — because let’s say we can find somebody who thinks it is more tidy to have all the sand underneath all the sugar. And if you like I’ll say I want it that way.

D: Hmm...

F: All right — take another example. Sometimes in the movies you will see a lot of letters of the alphabet all scattered over the screen, all higgledy-piggledy and some even upside down. And then something shakes the table so that the letters start to move, and then as the shaking goes on, the letters all come together to spell the title of the film.

D: Yes, I’ve seen that — they spelled DONALD.

F: It doesn’t matter what they spelled. The point is that you saw something being shaken and stirred up and instead of getting more mixed up than before, the letters came together into an order, all right way up, and spelled a word — they made up something which a lot of people would agree is sense.

D: Yes, Daddy, but you know .. .

F: No, I don’t know; what I am trying to say is that in the real world things never happen that way. It’s only in the movies.

D: But, Daddy .. .

F: I tell you it’s only in the movies that you can shake things and they seem to take on more order and sense than they had before .. .

D: But, Daddy .. .

F: Wait till I’ve finished this time . . . And they make it look like that in the movies by doing the whole thing backwards. They put the letters all in order to spell DONALD and then they start the camera and then they start shaking the table.

D: Oh, Daddy — I knew that and I did so want to tell you that — and then when they run the film, they run it backwards so that it looks as though things had happened forwards. But really the shaking happened backwards. And they have to photograph it upside down ... Why do they, Daddy?

F: Oh God.

D: Why do they have to fix the camera upside down, Daddy?

F: No, I won’t answer that question now because we’re in the middle of the question about muddles.

D: Oh — all right, but don’t forget, Daddy, you’ve got to answer that question about the camera another day. Don’t forget! You won’t forget, will you, Daddy? Because I may not remember. Please, Daddy.

F: Okay — but another day. Now, where were we? Yes, about things never happening backwards. And I was trying to tell you why it is a reason for things to happen in a certain way if we can show that that way has more ways of happening than some other way.

D: Daddy — don’t begin talking nonsense.

F: I’m not talking nonsense. Let’s start again. There’s only one way of spelling DONALD. Agreed?

D: Yes.

F: All right. And there are millions and millions and millions of ways of scattering six letters on the table. Agreed?

D: Yes. I suppose so. Can some of these be upside down?

F: Yes — just in the sort of higgledy-piggledy muddle they were in in the film. But there could be millions and millions and millions of muddles like that, couldn’t there? And only one DONALD?

D: All right — yes. But, Daddy, the same letters might spell OLD DAN.

F: Never mind. The movie people don’t want them to spell OLD DAN. They only want DONALD.

D: Why do they?

F: Damn the movie people.

D: But you mentioned them first, Daddy.

F: Yes — but that was to try to tell you why things happen that way in which there are most ways of their happening. And now it’s your bedtime.

D: But, Daddy, you never did finish telling me why things happen that way — the way that has most ways.

F: All right. But don’t start any more hares running — one is quite enough. Anyhow, I am tired of DONALD, let’s take another example. Let’s take tossing pennies.

D: Daddy? Are you still talking about the same question we started with? “Why do things get in a muddle?”

F: Yes.

D: Then, Daddy, is what you are trying to say true about pennies, and about DONALD, and about sugar and sand, and about my paint box, and about pennies?

F: Yes — that’s right.

D: Oh — I was just wondering, that’s all.

F: Now, let’s see if I can get it said this time. Let’s go back to the sand and the sugar, and let’s suppose that somebody says that having the sand at the bottom is “tidy” or “orderly.”

D: Daddy, does somebody have to say something like that before you can go on to talk about how things are going to get mixed up when you stir them?

F: Yes — that’s just the point. They say what they hope will happen and then I tell them it won’t happen because there are so many other things that might happen. And I know that it is more likely that one of the many things will happen and not one of the few.

D: Daddy, you’re just an old bookmaker, backing all the other horses against the one horse that I want to bet on.

F: That’s right, my dear. I get them to bet on what they call the “tidy” way — I know that there are infinitely many muddled ways — so things will always go toward muddle and mixedness.

D: But why didn’t you say that at the beginning, Daddy? I could have understood that all right.

F: Yes, I suppose so. Anyhow, it’s now bedtime.

D: Daddy, why do grownups have wars, instead of just fighting the way children do?

F: No — bedtime. Be off with you. We’ll talk about wars another time."

Written in 1948, published in Steps to an Ecology of Mind (1972… [more]
gregorybateson  thinking  1948  messiness  order  tidiness  orderliness  tidying  organization  understanding  taxonomy  language 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Taxonomy and Recirculation — Responsive Web Design
"We identified five distinct ways that posts could be sorted, each with its own purpose and rules:

categories and tags have no overlap. A term can exist in one list or the other, but not both. Categories are the primary grouping of the post, and the terms are quite broad: “Food”, “Race”, “Art”. If taxonomy is branding, then these top-level categories convey the major themes that make up The Toast. The category is relatively prominent in the homepage and article page metadata.

tags are much more topical. Topical tags are displayed on the front-end, but their real purpose is to drive the “recirc” modules that help users explore the site. (More on that in a second.) Keeping these tags functional means that we can automagically show more posts about “Buddhism” or “Shakespeare” as long as everything is tagged consistently.

fake tags are actually fake. The funny tags (like truckin’ and the continuation thereof) are a vital and hilarious part of The Toast experience, but the little information architect in our hearts wept whenever a user clicked through to the archive page for one of the 6,152 tags that only had a single post in them. On the new site, those “tags” are still presented on the front-end, but on the back-end they’re just a plain text field. (The fake tags link out to a Google Search, which we think is hilarious. We’re fun at parties.) We kept the funny and the functional, but gave them each their own field so they could be used differently. Deep breaths, taxonomists. It’s all going to be OK.

series have their own taxonomy list. The series are a major draw, and a huge source of multiple page views – it’s hard to read something like Mallory’s Two Monks Inventing Bestiaries and not immediately want more in the same vein. The next thing a user wants to see is probably not another article related to “animals”, but more inventions from the monks: perhaps maps, or dinner parties. By separating the series into their own taxonomy–rather than grouping them under Tags or Categories—we were able to build recirc modules that give preference to series-siblings over topic-siblings.

authors are managed only as people, not tags. Wordpress has a built-in way to create authors, with a byline and a gravatar. But the old taxonomy included many author names as tags, too—this was unnecessary, and we are all about avoiding unnecessary work. In the new system it’ll be easy to see more articles by a given author, so you can catch up on the back catalog written by your favorites.

Migration: Like cleaning out your closet, but with more robots
Migrating from the old taxonomy to our new and shiny five-part taxonomy required some human effort—with a lot of help from automated scripts. It wasn’t feasible to manually re-tag every single post and launch a new site during this century. But the new taxonomy wouldn’t work unless the existing posts were converted to the new system.

We started by exporting the full list of all tags on the site to a spreadsheet. We sorted and grouped by the number of posts in each entry, so tags with more than five posts could be handled first, leaving tags with only one post for later. We tasked Nicole and Mallory with recategorizing the list, which was the best client trolling we’ve ever done. They sorted each entry into:

• topic for tags that were topical and should stay as true tags.
• series for tags that should be converted to the new Series taxonomy.
• author for tags that are people. Tags are people!
• joke for the funny tags that should be converted to entries in each post’s plain text field.
• delete for tags that were no longer relevant or had no entries in them.

This sorting of tags into their new buckets could only be done by real people who were familiar with all the content in question, then the work after that could be automated. We also hope that this process will prophylactically prevent their tags from getting out of control in the future."
via:tealtan  tags  tagging  taxonomy  2015  cms  thetoast  webdev  webdesign  archives 
october 2015 by robertogreco
Tags | Collection of Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
"We have 2,227 tags and this is page 1 of 62. The tags are sorted in ascending order by tag name."
tags  tagging  cooper-hewitt  collections  taxonomy 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Knowing is Not Naming by Xiaowei Wang | recaps
"We never spoke about the end of empires, but when it happened, we had not seen each other for years. Somehow it escaped our taxonomy of the world, in between the causally symmetric balances and the notes you kept in the cabinet of a northeast institution, in a town with any latitude and longitude. Like our speech to each other, you defied my intuition, kept order and categories until rationale was exhausted.

It happened first on your end of the world, when you gave a night’s walk and noticed the trees full of luminaries. You said to me over the phone how it began on Mott St., an intersection with waning gingkos and brick clad buildings. You thought they were off season holiday lights; decorations for no one’s party.

You knew no one better to call, so it was the first time I heard your voice in years. I was alone in an apartment without furniture, body pressed against the floor, monitoring tiny earthquakes against the house’s wood frame as you hurriedly conspired with me about the emergence of these little creatures: Lux meridiani.

The aftershock of your voice arrived when I could count time in non-linear cycles again. Measurements and miles, the ratio of one encoded word to another were forgotten. I built systems of knowledge with others, in gardens and warehouses, gallery walls and sheets. The small radio you gifted me playing Brigitte Fontaine no longer held sound or gravity.It was those insects that arrived first in your port. Our classification scheme made during my aftershock became a world itself, a procedure that was defined after it had happened. It was a fidelity of information that could only ascribe the certainty of persistent learning, a final becoming of what one so deeply desired. A difficulty in routine.

I saw you weeks later on the TV screen at the deli, on a show filled with gleaming smiles, taut faces and perpetual ticker. You looked tired, thin, with less hair and more gravitas. The reporter asked your opinion on the plight that was at full rage in all known urban areas of North America. My eyes were ready for the invasion in sunny California, where endless summer and relentless beauty overwhelmed my walks and daily reckonings.

New York was first hit the hardest – a glowing light in all street trees on darkened winter days to evenings: persistent radiance. I imagined you from the confines of a light drenched “day”, tracing cartographic vectors of botanical disease, examining shipping container seals, in entomology departments echoing with rubber soled shoes and wool, practicing progressive devotion at the altar of naming.

I wrote all that I could follow, sending you messy notes on maps, telling you it was the geography of will that could only manifest such an insect plague. An alienation of latitude, a degree of material difference in fate that marked us unable to comprehend emergence any more than the life of the pharoah ant or the dragonfly. We exhausted our reserves of trade, wrote: it would be enough to accept defeat from this false economy into the next period of unnamed exchange.

It was my last letter to you that allowed me to forget our geographies and Linnaean schemes. You had stopped replying and I had found the perpetual light of evenings past, a blanket to sleep in periods of short duration. What did time or hours mean anymore, when I had forgotten dusk as a category and day as a known escape?

We awaited your team’s verdict, exactly where Lux meridiani appeared or evolved from, and which numbered crate from a precise longitude or latitude it arose. My neighbors went on with their hours. There were no more lights inside houses, only black curtains drawn tightly. Pundits and scientists enjoyed showing satellite images of the world at “night”, composited into one gleaming beacon where every pixel of continent was white. Days of rain were welcomed as relief to our thirst for some darkness, some contrast in quiet.

A year later, without any results, conclusions or reports with modest covers, you disappeared with all your notes and books. It was then I recalled clearly the first time you looked at me, lips curled asking if I only tolerated bad news.

It was this bad news that made our fiction: The first time you kissed me next to the sundial, during the autumn when sundials still signified movement. A roccoco frame, gold, 4cm in width and height, shaded behind a velvet cloche. Olfactory dislocation, the ancient image of darkened alleys where mystery might have kept itself, a time when engines of recoding were somewhere between ecology and industry, and the rustle of plastic and tinny coos of zippers. A time when projections of desires still existed in the last coordinate of black. The melancholy of pleasure: placed between lines of parameters, poetry and disaster.

“Knowing is not naming”

This workshop/teach-in will focus on the notion of the Anthropocene and the underpinnings of environmental change as a geographical issue, generated by the tension between classification, remote sensing and ground truthing.

Through specific case studies of “natural disasters”, we will look at the systems of land use classification and how ideology is embedded in these ways of categorizing and ordering nature. Beginning with the earliest botanical gardens as a method to classify novel fauna from imperial conquest to the technologic determinism that continues to imbue indices of urbanization and human extents, we will understand hierarchies created by floristic maps more deeply and develop new ways to reconfigure some of the most embedded categories we have towards land use.

Lux meridiani accompanies this workshop as a cartographic fiction built on existing data. By playing with thresholds in the geographical data and reorienting certain land use classifications, Lux meridiani takes the continuous exchange of invasive insects through global trade to imagine the emergence of a new, unknown species that infests street trees in urban areas with relentless luminescence. In this fable, Lux meridiani explicitly states what has been happening all along; that the recoding of our environment has been an economic rather than ecological engine all along."
xiaoweiwang  art  taxonomy  names  naming  cartography  luxmeridiani  anthropocene  2015  landuse  categorization  classification  nature  geography  insects  environment 
april 2015 by robertogreco
A Field Guide to the American Sandwich - NYTimes.com
"A celebration of the sandwich, and an attempt to create a taxonomy for its many diverse forms."
sandwiches  food  taxonomy  2015  via:mattthomas  samssifton 
april 2015 by robertogreco
The word-hoard: Robert Macfarlane on rewilding our language of landscape | Books | The Guardian
"For decades the leading nature writer has been collecting unusual words for landscapes and natural phenomena – from aquabob to zawn. It’s a lexicon we need to cherish in an age when a junior dictionary finds room for ‘broadband’ but has no place for ‘bluebell’"



"Eight years ago, in the coastal township of Shawbost on the Outer Hebridean island of Lewis, I was given an extraordinary document. It was entitled “Some Lewis Moorland Terms: A Peat Glossary”, and it listed Gaelic words and phrases for aspects of the tawny moorland that fills Lewis’s interior. Reading the glossary, I was amazed by the compressive elegance of its lexis, and its capacity for fine discrimination: a caochan, for instance, is “a slender moor-stream obscured by vegetation such that it is virtually hidden from sight”, while a feadan is “a small stream running from a moorland loch”, and a fèith is “a fine vein-like watercourse running through peat, often dry in the summer”. Other terms were striking for their visual poetry: rionnach maoim means “the shadows cast on the moorland by clouds moving across the sky on a bright and windy day”; èit refers to “the practice of placing quartz stones in streams so that they sparkle in moonlight and thereby attract salmon to them in the late summer and autumn”, and teine biorach is “the flame or will-o’-the-wisp that runs on top of heather when the moor burns during the summer”.

The “Peat Glossary” set my head a-whirr with wonder-words. It ran to several pages and more than 120 terms – and as that modest “Some” in its title acknowledged, it was incomplete. “There’s so much language to be added to it,” one of its compilers, Anne Campbell, told me. “It represents only three villages’ worth of words. I have a friend from South Uist who said her grandmother would add dozens to it. Every village in the upper islands would have its different phrases to contribute.” I thought of Norman MacCaig’s great Hebridean poem “By the Graveyard, Luskentyre”, where he imagines creating a dictionary out of the language of Donnie, a lobster fisherman from the Isle of Harris. It would be an impossible book, MacCaig concluded:

A volume thick as the height of the Clisham,

A volume big as the whole of Harris,

A volume beyond the wit of scholars.

The same summer I was on Lewis, a new edition of the Oxford Junior Dictionary was published. A sharp-eyed reader noticed that there had been a culling of words concerning nature. Under pressure, Oxford University Press revealed a list of the entries it no longer felt to be relevant to a modern-day childhood. The deletions included acorn, adder, ash, beech, bluebell, buttercup, catkin, conker, cowslip, cygnet, dandelion, fern, hazel, heather, heron, ivy, kingfisher, lark, mistletoe, nectar, newt, otter, pasture and willow. The words taking their places in the new edition included attachment, block-graph, blog, broadband, bullet-point, celebrity, chatroom, committee, cut-and-paste, MP3 player and voice-mail. As I had been entranced by the language preserved in the prose‑poem of the “Peat Glossary”, so I was dismayed by the language that had fallen (been pushed) from the dictionary. For blackberry, read Blackberry.



I have long been fascinated by the relations of language and landscape – by the power of strong style and single words to shape our senses of place. And it has become a habit, while travelling in Britain and Ireland, to note down place words as I encounter them: terms for particular aspects of terrain, elements, light and creaturely life, or resonant place names. I’ve scribbled these words in the backs of notebooks, or jotted them down on scraps of paper. Usually, I’ve gleaned them singly from conversations, maps or books. Now and then I’ve hit buried treasure in the form of vernacular word-lists or remarkable people – troves that have held gleaming handfuls of coinages, like the Lewisian “Peat Glossary”.

Not long after returning from Lewis, and spurred on by the Oxford deletions, I resolved to put my word-collecting on a more active footing, and to build up my own glossaries of place words. It seemed to me then that although we have fabulous compendia of flora, fauna and insects (Richard Mabey’s Flora Britannica and Mark Cocker’s Birds Britannica chief among them), we lack a Terra Britannica, as it were: a gathering of terms for the land and its weathers – terms used by crofters, fishermen, farmers, sailors, scientists, miners, climbers, soldiers, shepherds, poets, walkers and unrecorded others for whom particularised ways of describing place have been vital to everyday practice and perception. It seemed, too, that it might be worth assembling some of this terrifically fine-grained vocabulary – and releasing it back into imaginative circulation, as a way to rewild our language. I wanted to answer Norman MacCaig’s entreaty in his Luskentyre poem: “Scholars, I plead with you, / Where are your dictionaries of the wind … ?”"

[via: http://caterina.net/2015/02/27/bluebells-and-buttercups/ ]
robertmacfarlane  2015  language  glossaries  dictionaries  childhood  words  english  nature  landscape  lexicon  flora  fauna  insects  rewilding  taxonomy  dictionary 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Blessedly Unnecessary | Books and Culture
"Gregory Blackstock is autistic, and because of his extraordinary gifts he is called a "savant" (a problematic word, I feel). Like many autistic people, Blackstock has a passion for order and precision, which shows up in any number of ways. For instance, the autobiography he hand–wrote for his book, Blackstock's Collections, takes the form of a list—"1. MY DATE OF BIRTH … 2. MY PREVIOUS SCHOOLS OF 1950 TO 1964 … 3. MY USUAL CITY NEWSPAPER ROUTE PERIOD"—and in listing his employment history he notes that he began his job at the Washington Athletic Club on September 9, 1975 and retired on January 12, 2001. Though I said that Blackstock worked there for twenty–five years, he prefers to say that it was twenty–five–and–a–third years.

This precision is central to Blackstock's art as well—though I have no idea whether it affects his accordion playing. The book is called Blackstock's Collections because each drawing is just that, a collection of things belonging to a particular category. I find especially intriguing Blackstock's tendency to give his drawings titles that begin with the definite article: "The Knives", "The Dentist's Tools, "The Memorable Vermont Scenes"—as though he aspires to utter completeness, gathering every member of a given set on a single page."



"Most of the "collections" are perfectly comprehensible, even if we suspect that it's not really possible to get all of "The Knives" on one page (Blackstock manages fifty–one of them, a considerable achievement). But Blackstock's passion for taxonomy gets him into some curious corners. Smack in the middle of "The Bells," among cowbells and bicycle bells and doorbells and the Liberty Bell and the bell of Big Ben, there's a diving bell. Not the same kind of thing, you say? But it's a bell, isn't it? I wonder how Blackstock would respond if someone were to point out to him that in his drawing of "The Drums" he omits the eardrum.

One of the few really heterogeneous collections is "The Noisemakers," a highly colorful and (for Blackstock) rather large drawing, forty–four inches tall, which includes not only whistling skyrockets and M–80 firecrackers and chainsaws, but also "thunder–&–rainstorms" and a scowling face accompanied by a speech balloon containing an unusually symmetrical set of signs indicating unprintable words: "##**@@**##!!!" This noisemaker is labeled as "LOUD FILTHY–MOUTH OFFENDER, THE OVEREMOTIONAL DIRTBAG!""



"As Auden also notes, art has now lost that habit of usefulness and does not seem likely to get it back: when we try to unite the useful and the beautiful, he says, we "fail utterly." Though there are some recent developments in industrial design that give one hope, I think Auden is basically correct. It's difficult to imagine a new Piranesi, or an Audubon for the 21st century. We have turned over the task of documenting the world to the various cameras, and for good reason: they perform the task well. But I hope we may occasionally find more Gregory Blackstocks, artists who—unaware that their labors of documentary love are unnecessary—plunge ahead and do their work, thereby reminding us what it means to look, really to look, at the Creation."

[See also: http://blog.ayjay.org/uncategorized/collections/ ]
gregoryblackstock  alanjacobs  art  whauden  2007  katebingamanburt  cataloging  taxonomy  sorting  classification  drawing  drawings  inventory  inventories 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Identify Yourself
"At its core function, the Internet is a tool for the communication of information, whether factual or fictional. It has allowed us access to knowledge we would have otherwise never known, at a rate that we could have never achieved with printed materials. Each tool that we have developed to spread information has exponentially increased the speed at which it travels, leading to bursts of creativity and collaboration that have accelerated human development and accomplishment. The wired Internet at broadband speeds allows us to consume content so fast that any delay causes us to balk and whine. Wireless Internet made this information network portable and extended our range of knowledge beyond the boundaries of offices and libraries and into the world. Mobile devices have completely transformed our consumption of information, putting tiny computers in our pockets and letting us petition the wishing well of the infoverse.

Many people say this access has made us impatient, and I agree. But I also believe it reveals an innate hunger. We are now so dependent on access to knowledge at these rapid speeds that any lull in our consumption feels like a wasted moment. The currency of the information appears at all levels of society. From seeing new television shows to enjoying free, immediate access to new scientific publications that could impact your life’s work, this rapid transmission model has meaning and changes lives. We have access to information when we are waiting for an oil change and in line for coffee. While we can choose to consume web junk, as many often will, there is also a wealth of human understanding and opinions, academic texts, online courses, and library archives that can be accessed day and night, often for free."



While many seem to experience their Internet lives as a separate space of reality, I have always felt that the two were inextricable. I don’t go on the Internet; I am in the Internet and I am always online. I have extended myself into the machines I carry with me at all times. This space is continually shifting and I veer to adjust, applying myself to new media, continually gathering and recording data about myself, my relationships, my thoughts. I am a immaterial database of memory and hypertext, with invisible links in and out between the Internet and myself.

THE TEXT OBJECT
I would sit for as long as I could and devour information. It was not uncommon for me to devour a book in a single day, limiting all bodily movement except for page-turning, absolutely rapt by whatever I was reading. I was honored to be literate and sure that my dedication to knowledge would lead to great things. I was addicted to the consumption and processing of that information. It frustrated me that I could not read faster and process more. The form of the book provided me structured, linear access to information, with the reward for my attention being a complete and coherent story or idea.

Access to computers and the Internet completely changed the way that I consumed information and organized ideas in my head. I saw information stacked on top of itself in simultaneity, no longer confined to spatiotemporal dimensions of the book. This information was editable, and I could copy, paste, and cut text and images from one place to the next, squirreling away bits that felt important to me. I suddenly understood how much of myself I was finding through digital information."



"There is a system, and there are people within this system. I am only one of them, but I value deeply the opportunities this space grants me, and the wealth contained within it. We must fight to keep the Internet safe and open. Though it has already lost the magical freedom and democracy that existed in the days of the early web, we must continue to put our best minds to work using this extensive network of machines to aid us. Technology gives us so much, and we put so much of ourselves back into it, but we must always remember that we made the web and it will always be tied to us as humans, with our vast range of beauty and ugliness.

I only know my stories, my perspective, but it feels important to take note during this new technical Renaissance, to try and capture the spirit of this shift. I am vastly inspired by the capabilities of my tiny iPhone, my laptop, and all the software contained therein. This feeling is empowerment. The empowerment to learn, to create, and to communicate is something I’ve always felt is at the core of art-making, to be able to translate a complex idea or feeling into some contained or open form. Even the most simple or ethereal works have some form; the body, the image, the object. The file, the machine, the URL, these are all just new vessels for this spirit to be contained.

The files are beautiful, but I move to nominate the Internet as “sublime,” because when I stare into the glass precipice of my screen, I am in awe of the vastness contained within it, the micro and macro, simultaneously hard and technical and soft and human. Most importantly, it feels alive—with constant newness and deepening history, with endless activity and variety. May we keep this spirit intact and continue to explore new vessels into which we can pour ourselves, and reform our identities, shifting into a new world of Internet natives."

[Available as book: http://www.lulu.com/shop/krystal-south/identify-yourself/paperback/product-21189499.html ]
[About page: http://idyrself.com/about.html ]
internet  online  krystalsouth  howweread  howwewrite  atemporality  simultaneity  text  books  internetasliterature  reading  writing  computing  impatience  information  learning  unbook  copypasteculture  mutability  change  sharing  editing  levmanovich  computers  software  technology  sorting  files  taxonomy  instagram  flickr  tagging  folksonomy  facebook  presence  identity  web2.0  language  communication  internetasfavoritebook 
november 2013 by robertogreco
Acts of Knowledge — edgar/Endress
"The Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge is a Chinese Encyclopedia described by Jose Luis Borges, where an alternative taxonomy is listed:

1. those that belong to the Emperor,
2. embalmed ones,
3. those that are trained,
4. suckling pigs,
5. mermaids,
6. fabulous ones,
7. stray dogs,
8. those included in the present classification,
9. those that tremble as if they were mad,
10. innumerable ones,
11. those drawn with a very fine camelhair brush,
12. others,
13. those that have just broken a flower vase,
14. those that from a long way off look like flies.

This classification explore the arbitrariness (and cultural specificity) of any attempt to categorize the world and  demonstrates an "other" to our system of thought. In Foucault's book the "Order of Things", Foucault explicates an "archaeological" investigation of knowledge acquisition; he also comments on the fragility of our current means of understanding the world. For Foucault reasoning is the ultimate act of control, delivered through the power of representation to confirm an objective order. Acts of Knowledge begins with a text found in an old social studies text used in U.S. classrooms. This educational text delivers a structural form of knowledge and a series of narratives about the similar and the other. Acts of Knowledge uses the primary forms of knowledge -the encyclopedia- to question the structure imposed by the reasoning. In that context, the acts of estrangement and the visual structuring of the dictionary and the encyclopedias through collages questions the categorization, knowledge, and the arbitrariness of otherness. 

Acts of Knowledge is a collaborative project with: John Morgan, Bill Macmillan, Lori Lee, Aschoy Collective"
borges  taxonomy  classification  literature  art  illustration  via:thatstyping  encyclopedias  knowledge  johnmorgan  billmacmillan  lorilee  aschoycollective 
october 2013 by robertogreco
The Little Mystical - Notes on “The Structure of Collaborative Tagging System”
"I stumbled across a 2005 research paper on Delicious tagging, which studied tag usage across users and time. Here are some highlights:"

[Allen's commentary between highlighted screenshots:]

"This is perhaps the single greatest challenge with archival (personal or institutional) and systems for returning – your sensibilities in how to divide and categorize things change and throws off all your previous taxonomic efforts. These two articles on channel drift and decay theory may be worth revisiting."

"I wrote an overview of my Pinboard tagging structure [http://tanmade.com/writing/2012/05/05/tagging-structures.html ] back in 2012, which hasn’t changed very much – and is remarkably similar to this."
allentan  2013  pinboard  tagging  folgsonomy  tags  taxonomy  socialbookmarking  bookmarks  retrieval  social  socialbookmarks 
june 2013 by robertogreco
Tagging Structures – Allen Tan is…writing
"Tags have cascading levels of specificity: publishing > journalism > reading > narrative, for example, letting me jump in at whatever scale that I can remember. A useful rule-of-thumb is to name these tags what I’m likely to search for later, which sometimes feels like future sight."



"As fallback, I have 10 tags at the top level: technology, education, life, publishing, political, society, design, history, art, and food. Some of these things overlap, and that’s ok: they reflect the way I mentally sort what I find and read. Everything should be tagged at least one of these lead tags, and they are the starting points when I remember almost nothing about what I’m looking for.

This gives me a naming framework at the moment of tagging, too: I start with the lead tag and then describe the bookmark with broad categories, gradually getting more specific (the same way one would carve at sculpture), and then I skim through the article and my highlights again to add any individual triggers: names and highly specific concepts tend to be dropped in here. Specific uses (say, shopping) or projects also come at the end.



"This is a continuously evolving system: my bookmarks from even half a year ago looks different from my bookmarks now. This sometimes gives me trouble when I get confused by things tagged out of order, or by outdated naming conventions (I try to tag all people names as firstname-lastname now). So, careful and diligent pruning is necessary to keep this system coherent."

[See also: http://tealtan.tumblr.com/post/54105931916/notes-on-the-structure-of-collaborative-tagging that references http://www.citeulike.org/user/zelig/article/305755 + http://arxiv.org/pdf/cs.DL/0508082.pdf ]
allentan  2012  tagging  folksonomy  pinboard  del.icio.us  granularity  tags  bookmarks  bookmarking  socialbookmarking  socialbookmarks  taxonomy 
june 2013 by robertogreco
Matthew Battles – What is a specimen
"The little ivory characters are examples of tupilaq, a genre of carved critter widespread among the Inuit and other peoples of the far north. The tupilaq that live outside of museum time, outside of gallery time, are evil spirits called into being by a shaman for the purpose of making mischief. They carry curses to rivals and enemies. Made from bone and fur and other materials, the tupilaq are powerful magic — and dangerous for those who wield them, for if discovered, their powers turn back on their users unless an immediate public confession is made. Secrecy and darkness are the native habitat of the tupilaq; they lose their power when exposed to the sociable light."



"Objects arrive webbed in connections, and hoard their most intimate gestures and relations in unreachable treasure-houses. A collected object is a kind of vessel, freighted with an irredeemable record of acts and things, inaccessible worlds of sense and event, a tissue of phenomenal dark matter caught up in time’s obliterative machinery."



"Forged in an organismic manufactory, tooled by genes (it’s symbols all the way down), a tooth takes its place for a time in a network of perception and action: catching the piercing resonance of whale song bounding in the deep canyons — testing and metering the shifting temperatures of Arctic air — tearing and gripping the trauma-tautened flesh of smolt salmon."



"I want a museum with the modesty to realise that the objects of its interest do not take their sole, true, or final form beneath its gaze. As seen by science, objects withdraw their auras — burning coronas that connect sense and experience to the deep past — and when the galleries and museums are in ruins, they will expose new banners to time’s unfolding."



"Upon leaving the dermestid room, you had to stand in the airlock and brush down your clothes. There was an aroma of putrefaction in the room, but it was faint — you got used to it. The sound, however, was oppressive. The place hummed with a static song of tens of thousands of beetle grubs, hairy and grey, all chewing at sinew and dried muscle."



"Although to call the specimens dead does not sound quite right. For the specimens had transcended or exceeded death, had passed beyond its dominion by means of a process that arrested, ostensibly in perpetuity, their participation in the carbon cycle, the wheel of disarticulation and recombination, that is life on earth."



"An act of predation subsumes and reincorporates phenomenal animal affordances; the scientific sacraments of collecting and accessioning, by contrast, call forth abstract and motive truths, just as the expertise of the shaman reveals and directs the powers of the tupilaq spirits."



"Only later, upon its post-mortem discovery, was this dead creature turned into data. Now roughly preserved and enshrined in the Smithsonian, the dead insect serves as holotype for the computer bug. Like the tupilaq, computer bugs are ungovernable spirits evoked by a kind of transubstantiation. As the uncanny architecture of the computer unfolded itself in Harvard’s labs, the bug found its way not only into the machine’s works but into a new role as an object in our midst — a role that took its place among the object’s other histories and meanings, its penumbra of qualities.

This patterned assemblage of purposes, roles, and given characteristics, this accidental and ephemeral fate, I want to call by the name habit. An effigy, an insect, an animal’s measured, pinned-out pelt — we have our ways of domesticating these objects, of bringing them to ground, fixing them in amber or in print. The precise practices vary with what habits we bring to bear (from science to shamanism) and the collections they inhabit. And here is a clue — for dwelling in the word ‘inhabit’ is ‘habit’ itself. What if the habits in question are not ours, but those of the objects themselves?

A habit is not only a way of acting, but also a costume of a kind. Some objects — books, dice, celery stalks, lens caps — have deeply ingrained habits, while others — seashells and stars, perhaps, but also bottlecaps, icicles, and plastic six-pack yokes twirling in the mid-ocean gyre — wear their habits more lightly. And some objects take on the habit of naphtha and indelible ink, of cotton wool and alum, of cabinet drawer and taxonomic order.

The word ‘habit’ catches for me a sense of the shoddy assortment of qualities that knits an object into the fabric of things, weaving into one whole its social roles, the cultural codes it keys, and its whence-and-whither entanglements with deep time."



"After a long moment, the bat fled in a blur, disappearing into Chicago’s booming late-autumn breeze. It disappeared into the invisible cabinet of its unmeasured curiosity, its habit secreted in the wind."

[Previously: http://hilobrow.com/2013/01/29/resistant-objects/ ]
matthewbattles  objects  collections  museums  nature  aura  2013  tupilaq  meaning  meaningmaking  taxonomy  whales  animlas  teeth  inuit  art  culture  srg  edg  glvo  specimens  life  death  memory  memories  storytelling  holotypes  preparators  procedures  metadata  autotelos  naturalhsitory  georgescuvier  secrecy  darkness  magic  eowilson  history  bugs  computerbugs  habits  time  qualities  shamanism  science  understanding  misunderstanding 
may 2013 by robertogreco
The Garden | Contents Magazine
"Tagore’s influence scattered into the world, beloved but uncollected, like the impromptu stanzas that he wrote on admirers’ paper scraps while touring. He is in politics and activism, hidden behind the image of his friend Mohandas Gandhi, whom he held back from many ill-advised projects. He is in education via Montessori, and in economics via Sen and the Grameen Bank. He is especially in literature: via Anna Akhmatova, Bertolt Brecht, T. S. Eliot, Pablo Neruda, Victoria Ocampo—a reader could live many happy years on books by his admirers. Kawabata, who wrote The Master of Go, was a particular fan."



"The archives are best just before sleep, as memory and imagination take sway. Every archive has an intended logic, a day logic, with well-defined topics, alphabetical orderings, hierarchical taxonomies, or cross-referenced indexes. At night we see less of what is intended and more of what is there. "



"Archives cut up the understandings we make of things as we live them. As fragments, distant pieces of the world can find each other. When we visit the archives, we are visited by what arises among the fragments: by memories with their own power, by coincidences, by hidden patterns and new understandings. As we step out of the archives into everyday life, and back and forth, like we cycle between dreaming and waking, we stitch our own seams."
charlieloyd  dreams  archives  writing  memory  memories  seams  2013  contentsmagazine  rabindranathtagore  tagore  darkmatter  taxonomy  night  understanding  everyday  everydaylife  fragments  assemblage  bricolage  patterns  patternsensing  patternrecognition  dreaming  sleep  monetssori  mariamontessori  grameenbank  victoriaocampo  tseliot  bertoldbrecht  annaakhmatova  pabloneruda  gandhi 
april 2013 by robertogreco
Folksonomy :: vanderwal.net
"I am a fan of the word folk when talking about regular people. Eric put my mind in the framework with one of my favorite terms. I was also thinking that if you took "tax" (the work portion) of taxonomy and replaced it with something anybody could do you would get a folksonomy. I knew the etymology of this word was pulling is two parts from different core sources (Germanic and Greek), but that seemed fitting looking at the early Flickr and del.icio.us."

"The value in this external tagging is derived from people using their own vocabulary and adding explicit meaning, which may come from inferred understanding of the information/object. People are not so much categorizing, as providing a means to connect items (placing hooks) to provide their meaning in their own understanding."
folksonomy  via:litherland  tagging  vocabulary  definition  taxonomy  thomasvanderwal  2007  flickr  del.icio.us 
february 2013 by robertogreco
JORINDEVOIGT.COM » -NEWS-
"For the past decade, Jorinde Voigt has been creating large-scale drawings on paper, using traditional materials such as ink, oil stick, pencil, watercolor, and, more recently, collage. In the drawings that she did before incorporating collage, the artist combined line and text to diagram both factual and fictive activities, such as the flight of eagles, geographical directions, wind patterns, rotations, shifting horizon lines, top-ten pop charts, kisses, and electrical currents. Whirling across the paper, the sinuous patterns of lines and arrows—some of which may overlap—mark relentless change as well as convey the potential for chaos and ecstasy that resides within any system. Classification and pandemonium are inseparable. It is on the porous border of this vast abyss—what is called “infinity”—that Voigt investigates the caesuras between perception & knowledge, form and dissolution…"

[Text from PDF: http://jorindevoigt.com/blog/wp-content/wp-content/uploads/J.Yau_J.Voigt_EN2.pdf ]
meteorology  cartography  geography  collage  lines  nature  currents  wind  patterns  taxonomy  classification  johnyau  data  design  illustration  visualization  drawing  artists  art  memory  time  mapping  maps  jorindevoigt  via:selinjessa  from delicious
january 2013 by robertogreco
The Emotional Life of Books | Latest
"At the Remediating the Social conference a couple of weeks ago, Israeli artist Romy Achituv presented a data visualization project of the books in the Garden Library for Refugees and Migrant Workers in South Tel-Aviv. A unique element of this library is the use of emotional judgments from the readers to organize the books. This project resulted from a collaboration between Romy and me, where the main goal was to create a working prototype of a Web-based visualization of the “emotional history” of the books."
wanderingmaps  visualization  andréscolubri  shelving  language  migration  2012  taxonomy  sorting  emotion  books  from delicious
november 2012 by robertogreco
Social information processing - Wikipedia
"Social information processing is "an activity through which collective human actions organize knowledge."[1] It is the creation and processing of information by a group of people. As an academic field Social Information Processing studies the information processing power of networked social systems.

Typically computer tools are used such as:

* Authoring tools: e.g., blogs
* Collaboration tools: e.g., wikis, in particular, e.g., Wikipedia
* Translating tools: Duolingo, reCAPTCHA
* Tagging systems (social bookmarking): e.g., del.icio.us, Flickr, CiteULike
* Social networking: e.g., Facebook, MySpace, Essembly
* Collaborative filtering: e.g., Digg, the Amazon Product Recommendation System, Yahoo answers, Urtak"

[See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Social_information_processing ]
filtering  collaboration  wikipedia  wikis  blogs  informationprocessing  networks  networkeddata  socialnetworking  information  socialmedia  socialinformationprocessing  flickr  pinboard  del.icio.us  taxonomy  tagging  from delicious
november 2012 by robertogreco
The Interstitial Library
"The Interstitial Library's Circulating Collection is located at no fixed site. Its vast holdings are dispersed throughout private collections, used bookstores, other libraries, thrift stores, garbage dumps, attics, garages, hollow trees, sunken ships, the bottom desk-drawers of writers, the imaginations of non-writers, the pages of other books, the possible future, and the inaccessible past.

In a sense, this library has always existed. However, until now it has had no librarians, no catalog, and no name.

The Interstitial Library does not aspire to completeness. Indeed, we champion the incomplete, temporary, provisional, circulating and, of course, interstitial. Above all, we aim to acquire and catalogue those books that are themselves interstitial: that fall between obvious subject categories; that are notable for qualities seldom recognized by traditional institutions; that no longer exist, do not yet exist, or are entirely imaginary."
temporaryservices  temporary  provisional  unfinished  incomplete  taxonomy  ephemeral  shelleyjackson  christinehill  humor  art  collaboration  library  philosophy  borges  classification  cataloging  2004  libraries  books  interstitiallibrary  ephemerality  from delicious
august 2012 by robertogreco
Shirky: Ontology is Overrated -- Categories, Links, and Tags
"This piece is based on two talks I gave in the spring of 2005 -- one at the O'Reilly ETech conference in March, entitled "Ontology Is Overrated", and one at the IMCExpo in April entitled "Folksonomies & Tags: The rise of user-developed classification." The written version is a heavily edited concatenation of those two talks.

PART I: Classification and Its Discontents

Q: What is Ontology? A: It Depends on What the Meaning of "Is" Is.

Cleaving Nature at the Joints

Of Cards and Catalogs

The Parable of the Ontologist, or, "There Is No Shelf"

File Systems and Hierarchy

When Does Ontological Classification Work Well?

Domain to be Organized

Participants

Mind Reading

Fortune Telling

Part II: The Only Group That Can Categorize Everything Is Everybody

"My God. It's full of links!"

Great Minds Don't Think Alike

Tag Distributions on del.icio.us

Organization Goes Organic"
2005  flickr  del.icio.us  web  metadata  classification  categorization  taxonomy  via:caseygollan  tagging  tags  folksonomy  clayshirky  ontology  from delicious
may 2012 by robertogreco
The Fans Are All Right (Pinboard Blog)
"I learned a lot about fandom couple of years ago in conversations with my friend Britta, who was working at the time as community manager for Delicious. She taught me that fans were among the heaviest users of the bookmarking site, and had constructed an edifice of incredibly elaborate tagging conventions, plugins, and scripts to organize their output along a bewildering number of dimensions. If you wanted to read a 3000 word fic where Picard forces Gandalf into sexual bondage, and it seems unconsensual but secretly both want it, and it's R-explicit but not NC-17 explicit, all you had to do was search along the appropriate combination of tags (and if you couldn't find it, someone would probably write it for you). By 2008 a whole suite of theoretical ideas about folksonomy, crowdsourcing, faceted infomation retrieval, collaborative editing and emergent ontology had been implemented by a bunch of friendly people so that they could read about Kirk drilling Spock."
pinboard  2011  fanfiction  taxonomy  folksonomy  brittagustafson  del.icio.us  avos  bookmarking  bookmarks  tags  tagging  collaboration  collaborative  crowdsourcing  fans  from delicious
october 2011 by robertogreco
Proposal For Phylogenic Classification, Advances Bread Clip Science
"A publication in this month’s BMJ Case Reports, a peer-reviewed publication of the British Medical Journal, offers a “proposal for phylogenic plastic bag clip classification”."

"Presented here is a morphologically based classification of bag clips as a possible guide for determining the most hazardous varieties and to aid further discussions of their impact on health."

[Links to:
http://www.horg.com/horg/intro.html
http://www.horg.com/horg/

"This site contains several years of research in the classification of occlupanids. These small objects are everywhere, dotting supermarket aisles and sidewalks with an impressive array of form and color. The Holotypic Occlupanid Research Group has taken on the mantle of classifying this most common, yet most puzzling, member of phylum Plasticae."]
taxonomy  classification  breadclips  2011  health  research  bagclips  kwiklok  breadtabs  from delicious
september 2011 by robertogreco
The Believer - Doubling in the Middle
"Barry Duncan is quite possibly the world's first master palindromist, and he refuses to cede control to the alphabet

DISCUSSED: Epic Struggles, The Distance Between Masters and Hacks, Palindromic Taxonomy, A Convenient Ampersand, Cutting-Edge Work in Reversibility, Some Limitations of an Untrained Audience, A Strange Kind of Amazing, The Relationship Killer, Disproportionate Responses, A Surfeit of Calendars, A Deficit of Wool and Illusions"
writing  language  barryduncan  words  literature  fun  taxonomy  reversability  2011  thebeliever  from delicious
september 2011 by robertogreco
Text Patterns: curators and imitators
"So I’d suggest this as the beginnings of a taxonomy:

1) The Linker: That’s what most of us are. We just link to things we’re interested in, without any particular agenda or system at work…my Pinboard page…page of links.

2) The Coolhunter: People who strive to find the unusual, the striking, the amazing — the very, very cool, often within certain topical boundaries, but widely & loosely defined ones…Kottke & Maria Popova…

3) The Curator: There are some. Not many…tends to have a clear & strict focus…some particular area of interest…finds things that other people can’t find…easily…having access to stuff that is not fully public…putting stuff online for the first time…having a unique take on public material…Bibliodyssey is a genuinely curated site; also, just because of its highly distinctive sensibility, Things magazine.

…not saying that one of these categories is superior to the others. They’re just all different, and the difference is worth noting."
alanjacobs  via:lukeneff  curation  curating  online  web  blogging  kottke  mariapopova  taxonomy  links  bookmarks  del.icio.us  pinboard  blogs  tumblr  bibliodyssey  coolhunters  2011  language  sharing  from delicious
june 2011 by robertogreco
Toward a Taxonomy of Secrets
"While most of the literature on information security accepts the existence of secrets as a given and proceeds to develop various solutions for the preservation and handling of secrets, it is our intent to step back from this and consider briefly the basic nature of secrets. We will explore the various types of secrets and the different motivations that lead to the creation and keeping of secrets. The information presented on this topic may be viewed as a rudimentary taxonomy of secrets, which may be fleshed out further if it is deemed useful by the community. We will also consider the implications that might be drawn about how best to deal with secrets. In all cases where we refer to the keeper of the secret, it should be assumed that this term may refer to either an individual or an organization, such as a corporation, religious body, or government, unless other distinctions are explicitly made."
cryptography  government  taxonomy  secrets  security  privacy  research  secrecy  military  from delicious
november 2010 by robertogreco
What Wikipedia Is Best at Explaining - NYTimes.com
"Wikipedia has become the world’s master catalogue raisonnée for new clumps of data. Its legion nameless authors are the Audubons, the Magellans, the Berensons of our time. This was made clear to me recently when I unknowingly quoted the work of Randy Dewberry, an anonymous contributor to Wikipedia, in a column on the video game Angry Birds. Dewberry’s prose hit a note rare in exposition anywhere: both efficient and impassioned. (“Players take control of a flock of birds that are attempting to retrieve their eggs from a group of evil pigs that have stolen them.”)"
virginiaheffernan  wikipedia  internet  online  taxonomy  videogames  cataloging  writing  from delicious
november 2010 by robertogreco
The taxonomy of the invisible - Bobulate
"Peter del Tredici, a senior research scientist at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University and lecturer in landscape architecture at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, argues the wildlife that surrounds us every day often has an “image problem:” it goes unnoticed, unattended, and unvalued. “There is no denying the fact that many — if not most — of the plants … suffer from image problems associated with the label ‘weeds,’ or, to use a more recent term, ‘invasive species.’ From the plant’s perspective, ‘invasiveness’ is just another word for successful reproduction — the ultimate goal of all organisms, including humans…. The term is a value judgment that humans apply to plants we do not like, not a biological characteristic.”"
iphone  applications  location  lizdanzico  weeds  plants  invasivespecies  nature  naturedeficitdisorder  urban  urbanism  childhood  chores  memories  nostalgia  noticing  danhill  cityofsound  trees  treesny  nyc  life  systems  biology  glvo  srg  edg  humans  perspective  language  words  taxonomy  wildlife  cities  value  organisms  shrequest1  ios  from delicious
november 2010 by robertogreco
[VIVARIA.NET] ["The project asks: Why Look at Artificial Animals? (paying homage to John Berger's essay 'Why look at Animals?' published in 1980)."]
"Animals are both like and unlike humans. If this was partly reinforced by human isolation from the wider world of nature under the culture of capitalism, under late techno-capitalism, animals can be said to be increasingly both like and unlike machines — or to put it another way, machines are increasingly being classified according to the model of the animal. The inter-relationships are enduring ones, reactivated by changes in social and technological production, making the former distinction further complicated by the addition of artificial life-formds and biotechnologies — the merging of biological and computational forms. The task of classifying and differentiating between animals, humans and machines is one performed with increasing amounts of difficulty, born out of complexity, to use an adaptive term. Perhaps, under the conditions of bio-techno-capitalism, humans are both like and unlike artificial animals."
animals  art  literature  science  poetry  vivaria  borges  taxonomy  relationships  humans  complexity  shakespeare  darwin  sulawesicrestedmacaques  johnberger  via:chriswoebken  biotechnology  capitalism  bio-techno-capitalism  machines  classification  sorting  differentiation  hybrids  isolation  nature  techno-capitalism  technology  charlesdarwin  from delicious
november 2010 by robertogreco
Education for Well-being » The Crying Engineer
"So one day I came upon this guy Paul, this engineer, this very reserved guy and he was crying. He was looking at a mangrove plant crying, standing there, the tears coming down his eyes. And I said, “What’s going on?” And he said, “Why have I never learned in all of my education about mangroves? Why don’t I know or have ever considered that these guys are a solar-powered desalination plant? They have their roots in salt water and are living on freshwater.” He said, “We use 900 pounds per square inch to force water against a membrane to get salt out of it and we wonder why it clogs. And this is silent, solar powered, desalination.”

He said, “Tell me how it works.”

Engineers are trying to make tools for living–technology. Nature has technologies too, only engineers never learn about nature’s technologies. They learn how to domesticate nature, learn sort of how to use nature when we need it but they don’t learn how to learn from nature."
janinebenyus  biomimicry  design  engineering  engineers  learning  nature  janejacobs  conservation  mangroves  biomimetics  taxonomy  biology  animals  plants  from delicious
september 2010 by robertogreco
Doors of Perception weblog: Traditional knowledge: the dilemmas of sharing
"traditional and tacit knowledge does not lend itself to being codified, organized by knowledge managers, and put into an encyclopedia. It is is socially-owned and used. Like flowers that wilt when cut and put in a vase, indigenous knowledge tends to degrade quickly when removed from its context...
johnthackara  curation  knowledge  libraries  skills  context  knowledgeecologies  taxonomy  categorization  expertise  sharing 
august 2010 by robertogreco
A stranger comes to town « Snarkmarket
"Step 1: Rob Greco reads Jason Kottke’s blog.

Step 3: I find myself strolling the streets of San Diego with a gang of smart 7th graders.

For the zeit­geisty con­nec­tive tis­sue that is step 2, check out Rob’s reflec­tion here. It includes some very nice words about Snark­mar­ket! (And some nice words about me, too—so of course I was hes­i­tant to link to it too eagerly here—but hon­estly the whole thing is such a cool panoramic tale of a new kind of learn­ing, and Rob’s artic­u­la­tion of it is so good, that I am will­ing to bite the bul­let and incur some neg­a­tive self-aggrandizement points for the sake of sharing.)

P.S. I feel like I have not rec­om­mended a Deli­cious account in years, but Rob’s links are basi­cally what keep me com­ing back to my net­work page. They are thought­ful, thor­oughly anno­tated (his notes are almost lit­tle blog entries), and fright­en­ingly well-tagged."
robinsloan  tcsnmy  tcsnmy7  ego  cv  kottke  taxonomy  zeitgeist  tagging  tags  sandiego  del.icio.us 
april 2010 by robertogreco
Borges' Encyclopedia
"In "The Analytical Language of John Wilkins," Borges describes 'a certain Chinese Encyclopedia,' the Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge, in which it is written that animals are divided into:
borges  johnwilkins  animals  folksonomy  taxonomy  libraries  literature  encyclopedia  culture 
april 2010 by robertogreco
The Phylomon Project
"Well 2010 is here, a.k.a. the International Year of Biodiversity, and to us at the SCQ, it means that we're finally ready to go ahead with our long awaited phylomon project. “What is this?” you ask? Well, it's an online initiative aimed at creating a Pokemon card type resource but with real creatures on display in full “character design” wonder. Not only that - but we plan to have the scientific community weigh in to determine the content on such cards (note that the cards above are only a mock-up of what that content might be), as well as folks who love gaming to try and design interesting ways to use the cards. Then to top it all off, members of the teacher community will participate to see whether these cards have educational merit. Best of all, the hope is that this will all occur in a non-commercial-open-access-open-source-because-basically-this-is-good-for-you-your-children-and-your-planet sort of way."
pokemon  taxonomy  pedagogy  education  children  teaching  science  games  animals  biology  memory  biodiversity  conservation  2010  gaming  cardgames  tcsnmy  opensource  creativecommons  kids  art  life  eowilson  publicservice  glvo  edg  srg  drawing  illustration  pokémon 
january 2010 by robertogreco
Museum 2.0: What Could Kill an Elegant, High-Value Participatory Project?
"Haarlem Oost is a branch library in the Netherlands that wanted to encourage visitors to add tags (descriptive keywords) to the books they read. These tags would be added to the books in the catalog to build a kind of recommendation system. To do this, the library didn't create a complicated computer system or send people online. Instead, they installed more book drops and return shelves, labeled with different descriptors like "boring," "great for kids," "funny," etc. This brilliant design allowed patrons to create new knowledge about the books in the library while only slightly adjusting their book-returning behavior."

[via: http://snarkmarket.com/2010/4687 ]
books  libraries  library2.0  sorting  tagging  taxonomy  ratings  physicaltagging  classification  keywords 
january 2010 by robertogreco
A Common Nomenclature for Lego Families by Giles Turnbull - The Morning News
"Thousands of different Lego exist, yet when your seven-year-old asks for “a clippy bit,” you know exactly what to hand him. GILES TURNBULL surveys a caucus of children and determines a common nomenclature."

[New URL: http://www.themorningnews.org/article/a-common-nomenclature-for-lego-families ]
culture  children  play  folksonomy  names  linguistics  words  taxonomy  language  writing  nomenclature  lego  slang  toys  glvo  edg  srg  naming 
november 2009 by robertogreco
Nicolas Myers :: Portfolio :: Transgenic Bestiary
"Transgenic Bestiary is a game that envisions the use of animal dna to discover biodiversity, understand taxonomy and create imaginary collections of virtual hybrids."

[via: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ludens/3959950591/ ]
nicholasmyers  bestiary  genetics  dna  art  design  taxonomy  science  biology  tcsnmy  biodiversity  imagination  creativity  hybrids  srg  glvo  edg 
september 2009 by robertogreco
Reviving the Lost Art of Naming the World - NYTimes.com
"We are, all of us, abandoning taxonomy, the ordering and naming of life. We are willfully becoming poor J.B.R., losing the ability to order and name and therefore losing a connection to and a place in the living world.

No wonder so few of us can really see what is out there. Even when scads of insistent wildlife appear with a flourish right in front of us, and there is such life always — hawks migrating over the parking lot, great colorful moths banging up against the window at night — we barely seem to notice. We are so disconnected from the living world that we can live in the midst of a mass extinction, of the rapid invasion everywhere of new and noxious species, entirely unaware that anything is happening. Happily, changing all this turns out to be easy. Just find an organism, any organism, small, large, gaudy, subtle — anywhere, and they are everywhere — and get a sense of it, its shape, color, size, feel, smell, sound. Give a nod to Professor Franclemont and meditate, luxuriate in its beetle-ness, its daffodility. Then find a name for it. Learn science’s name, one of countless folk names, or make up your own. To do so is to change everything, including yourself. Because once you start noticing organisms, once you have a name for particular beasts, birds and flowers, you can’t help seeing life and the order in it, just where it has always been, all around you."
via:preoccupations  taxonomy  language  observation  words  naming  names  nature  life  order  sustainability  earth  living  awareness  curiosity  engagement  learning  biology  science  tcsnmy  glvo  edg  srg  invention  meaning  connections  understanding  animals  plants  carolkaesukyoon 
august 2009 by robertogreco
YouTube - Information R/evolution
"This video explores the changes in the way we find, store, create, critique, and share information. This video was created as a conversation starter, and works especially well when brainstorming with people about the near future and the skills needed in order to harness, evaluate, and create information effectively."
michaelwesch  information  visualization  folksonomy  tagging  libraries  future  internet  taxonomy  collaboration  education  technology  reference  search  culture  organization  digital  web  media  classification 
august 2008 by robertogreco
The asymmetry of the indescribable :: Architectures of Control :: Dan Lockton
"If you’re in search of a term, how about ‘Philological Cladistics’ to describe the exploration of ways in which knowledge/fields-of-study can be compartmentalised (also see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dewey_decimal ), and ‘Philological determinism’ to describe how any compartmentalisation inhibits interdisciplinary exploration."
research  interdisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  neologisms  terminology  taxonomy  categorization  invention  innovation  academia  language  description  compartmentalization 
august 2008 by robertogreco
Conceptual Trends and Current Topics - A Web Page For Every Species
"Here's a story about something big. Big as the planet. Not well known, but important. I go into great detail because I was present for part of its rise. It's also the story of how big things get done. With set-backs, failures, many people, unexpected tur
kevinkelly  crowdsourcing  biology  eowilson  taxonomy  philanthropy  nature  science  community 
march 2008 by robertogreco
Nick Sherman > Senior Degree Project > A Modern Day Specimen Book > Introduction
"As an alternative to tools currently in use, I proposed to develop a prototype of a new dynamic tool for navigating the universe of typography, which will inherently connect the user with more appropriate typefaces for their needs."
classification  typography  taxonomy  design  type  process  research 
march 2008 by robertogreco
Cabinet Magazine Online - Cutting the World at Its Joints: An Interview with D. Graham Burnett
"Trying Leviathan centers on a trial that took place in 1818 in Manhattan, where a jury had to determine whether a whale was a fish for the purpose of New York State law. This question had come up under a statute requiring that all fish oil be inspected a
books  law  taxonomy  whales  animals  classification  history 
february 2008 by robertogreco
Bush-U-Like « Adam Greenfield’s Speedbird
"doctrine of computational ubiquity some forty years downstream...and frank description of the memex as outboard memory augmentation...Vannevar Bush as belonging properly to the history of ubicomp."
ubicomp  memex  vannevarbush  hypertext  del.icio.us  ubiquitous  memory  information  infooverload  specialization  search  taxonomy  tagging  tags  internet  web  specialists 
february 2008 by robertogreco
Kevin Kelly -- The Technium - Lumpers and Splitters
"In every classification scheme...those who tend to find similarities & lump smaller groups into larger...those who find differences...split larger groups into smaller...Sometimes lumpers prevail or splitters...rare moments of revolution mixer-uppers prev
classification  taxonomy  change  biology  technology  singularity  future  predictions  kevinkelly  species 
january 2008 by robertogreco
The Decline and Fall of the Animal Kingdom
"Life was not split into five kingdoms, Woese and Fox argued, but three "urkingdoms" (think German). Woese later changed this label to "domains."
biology  taxonomy  animals 
november 2007 by robertogreco
Semapedia.org: index
"Our goal is to connect the virtual and physical world by bringing the right information from the internet to the relevant place in physical space."
aggregator  location-based  ambient  annotation  taxonomy  folksonomy  semantic  semantics  semanticweb  mobile  phones  locative  location  maps  mapping  local  learning  information  geotagging  interactive  hyperlinks  qrcodes  socialnetworks  socialsoftware  semacode  tagging  geocoding  geography  everyware  ubicomp  ubiquitous 
october 2007 by robertogreco
MailTags
"The revolutionary enhancement that transforms Apple’s Mail into a powerful email organization system."
tags  taxonomy  tagging  mac  osx  mail  software  applications  addons  extensions  email  productivity  folksonomy 
october 2007 by robertogreco
YouTube - Information R/evolution
"This video explores the changes in the way we find, store, create, critique, and share information. This video was created as a conversation starter, and works especially well when brainstorming with people about the near future and the skills needed in order to harness, evaluate, and create information effectively."
michaelwesch  ux  video  web2.0  information  nearfuture  sharing  internet  online  web  anthropology  taxonomy  tags  tagging  search  content  wikipedia  contribution  usergenerated  user  community 
october 2007 by robertogreco
The Smart Set: Here's To the Death of the "Death of" Article - October 12, 2007
"problem with both Luddites and Technorati ...tend to moralize technology itself, [as] “good” or “bad” by definition, rather than simply representing a number of blank, inert platforms for...human storytelling impulse. It’s the stuff on...pages
books  bookstores  miscellaneous  serendipity  retail  reading  publishing  writing  media  business  classification  taxonomy  internet  catalog  future  storytelling  stories  literature  luddites 
october 2007 by robertogreco
Conversational Reading: Bookstore Obsolescence
"aggravating when I can't find what I want in a bookstore...pretty much impossible not to find a copy...on the web. But therein lies the irony--often when I haven't found what I've wanted in a bookstore, I've continued to browse...found something even bet
books  bookstores  miscellaneous  serendipity  retail  reading  publishing  media  business  classification  taxonomy  internet  catalog  future 
october 2007 by robertogreco
Bookstores Begin Slow Descent Into Obsolescence - Publishing 2.0
""Browsing bookstore shelves used to be one of the best ways to experience the power of the miscellaneous — now it is only a pale shadow of what the Web and digital information makes possible." - but there are other ways they may live on
books  bookstores  miscellaneous  serendipity  retail  reading  publishing  media  business  classification  taxonomy  internet  catalog  future 
october 2007 by robertogreco
Creative Generalist - Everything is Miscellaneous
"perhaps the part of this most relevant to the generalist discussion is how the third-order diminishes experts' exclusivity over defining relevant knowledge"
davidweinberger  generalists  tags  tagging  knowledge  experts  information  specialization  web  internet  taxonomy  classification  folksonomy  socialnetworks  complexity  sorting  libraries  culture  wikipedia  statistics  groups  identity  self  clustering  marketing  specialists 
september 2007 by robertogreco
Tom Hume: PICNIC07: Everything is miscellaneous, David Weinberger
"The expert who is unwilling to engage in conversation is losing relevancy". Knowledge has always been social; in a good conversation, we drive the bugs out of knowledge."
wikipedia  knowledge  davidweinberger  classification  taxonomy  folksonomy  tagging  information  credibility  social 
september 2007 by robertogreco
Pew Research Center: Tagging Play
"Forget Dewey and His Decimals, Internet Users Are Revolutionizing the Way We Classify Information - and Make Sense of It"
del.icio.us  flickr  folksonomy  tags  tagging  statistics  standards  socialsoftware  taxonomy  trends  use  classification  community  analysis  libraries  journalism  media  networking  pew  play  research 
july 2007 by robertogreco
H2O Playlist: Home
"H2O playlists are more than just a cool, sleek technology -- they represent a new way of thinking about education online. An H2O Playlist is a series of links to books, articles, and other materials that collectively explore an idea or set the stage for
bookmarks  learning  del.icio.us  socialsoftware  social  technology  online  links  reference  search  education  rss  resources  bookmarking  tagging  tags  folksonomy  taxonomy  feeds  academia  aggregator  archives  audio  bibliography  books  citation  collaboration  collaborative  collections  community  curriculum  directory  documentation  documents  information  knowledge  pedagogy 
may 2007 by robertogreco
H2O Playlist: Social Bookmarking - sort of...
"Links to support a presentation given at an OU eLearning Community Workshop. Looks at the evolution of my relationship with social bookmarking, moving from simple link collections and their exploition via embedded RSS feeds, to a more general take on boo
bookmarks  learning  del.icio.us  socialsoftware  social  technology  online  links  reference  search  education  rss  resources  bookmarking  tagging  tags  folksonomy  taxonomy  feeds 
may 2007 by robertogreco
What's in a Name? The Future of Life
"The so-called binomial system of genus and species that Linse and thousands of other biologists use today was first proposed by a Swedish biologist born 300 years ago Wednesday, Carolus Linnaeus."
biology  classification  taxonomy  nature  animals  evolution  science  globalization  life  genetics  visualization 
may 2007 by robertogreco
Bokardo » The Del.icio.us Lesson
"The one major idea behind the Del.icio.us Lesson is that personal value precedes network value. What this means is that if we are to build networks of value, then each person on the network needs to find value for themselves before they can contribute value to the network. In the case of Del.icio.us, people find value saving their personal bookmarks first and foremost. All other usage is secondary."
del.icio.us  folksonomy  tagging  tags  taxonomy  search  bookmarks  community  collaboration  networks  systems  user  blogging  blogs  bookmarking  crowdsourcing  socialnetworking  socialnetworks  socialsoftware  classification 
may 2007 by robertogreco
The Believer - The Codex Seraphinianus
"How mysterious is a mysterious text if the author is still alive (and emailing)?"
borges  books  italocalvino  text  hypertext  fiction  lewiscarroll  taxonomy  toread 
may 2007 by robertogreco
veotag :.. home
"Place clickable tags and comments anywhere within a video or audio file; Divide video and audio files into chapters and segments; Let your audience see what's coming up -- and jump to the parts that interest them most"
subtitles  annotation  video  tools  online  presentations  remix  editing  digital  socialsoftware  comments  tags  taxonomy  folksonomy  text  social 
december 2006 by robertogreco
Welcome to Connectivism! — Connectivism
"Connectivism is a learning theory for the digital age. Learning has changed over the last several decades. The theories of behaviourism, cognitivism, and constructivism provide an effect view of learning in many environments. They fall short, however, wh
blogs  collaboration  community  e-learning  education  future  internet  learning  longtail  mapping  training  tools  networks  sharing  social  socialsoftware  taxonomy  teaching  technology  thinking  theory  connectivism  wiki 
october 2006 by robertogreco
borges essay the (16 May 2006, Interconnected)
"Borges' essay The Analytical Language of John Wilkins is the source of that mythical animal categorisation from an unknown (or fictional) Chinese encyclopaedia, the one that includes a division of those animals (n) that from a long way off look like flie
language  classification  taxonomy  borges  argentina  mattwebb  2006 
may 2006 by robertogreco
MobileSCOUT
"Mobile Scout is a global pubic art project that collects audio narratives of your local surroundings, personal rituals, and public sightings. Using your mobile phone, you leave a voice message of your observations with the Mobile Scout Ranger, our automa
art  audio  annotation  internet  mobile  phones  projects  voice  web  locative  location-based  social  location  folksonomy  taxonomy  collaborative  music  messages  messaging 
january 2006 by robertogreco

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