In a physical world we have to fix the order of things we use every time we use them and to the extent of how organized we are. In a digital environment computers do that for us, through the programming we write for them. Digital miscellany of “dumping everything into one big pile” only works if the programs we write can define how and what to find. Processing power of computers got really good and is much faster then human brain in sorting information, that is why it is easier to keep things miscellaneous in a digital environment and let digital machines to sort it all for us.
But what is a problem with miscellaneous. Too much miscellaneous and we don’t know what we are looking for. We may compile forks knives and spoons together, but come the times for finding a complex set of dining wear, we are SOL. Same in a digital world, too much of miscellaneous categories and we are lost. Physical organization has limited our vision and made those who organizers more powerful than those who search.
The freedom of categorization brings upon a problem of searching, unless the vocabulary of categorization is controlled and uniform across the borders. Yet, even a best organized system is still a category, created by one or another.
This chapter reminds me of our current social construct, where categorizations are our current social systems. They are power-hungry and top-heavy. Neither capitalist, nor socialist trickle down effects worked. This was proven by the recent events. Today the world is struggling from consequences of failed economics. The current social constructs simply do not work. Today the world is looking for a new, advancement in economics and politics. For the people, and by the people, where grassroots and bottom up approach seem to work, although it is too early to judge. Cooperatives, and systems that run by the people, not by the corporations or bureaucrats, seem to hold their grounds in the tough environment of social economics. Tagging is like that approach from the bottom up, organization on the way out, not on the way in. In politics, the old-world systems, created over the centuries, are old and rusty, humanity revealed its true nature… and it is time to have a new system, with a different approach. This is how I see tagging in relations to the Getty thesaurus and other categorization systems.
Rather than using a standard (top heavy approach) each individual item on sites like Delicious, is categorized by individuals and the lists are made public. Tagging and liberating digital data into miscellaneous creates a new era. Schedules and orders all of the sudden don’t mean anything. from BBC-America to eBay, tagging freed up the world from having to follow the categories.
“Four new strategic principles” are revealed in this chapter:
- Filter on the way out, not on the way in,
- Put each leaf on as many branches as possible
- Everything is metadata and everything can be a label
- Give up control.