Everything is Miscellaneous

David Weinberger’s 49 minutes on his new book, with some questions.

  • We develop ideas about things through ‘prototypes’ that we refine; a sparrow is perhaps a better example of a bird than a penguin is, but both fit the prototype ‘bird’
  • Digital objects can be in more than one category, a certain thing could have several prototypes. E.g. bodmas.org is published using a blog script, but comments are not used much – is this a blog or something else?
  • Folksonomies can create meaning by the tagging of things
  • Dewey was slightly odd!

I’ll probably end up buying the book. Thanks to Seb Schmoller via his fortnightly mailing list page for the link – and an hour thinking about how we classify things. Is Seb’s page a blog with a fixed frequency of posting or the Web archive of a mailing list? Can it be both? Note added 28th May Seb claims that “the mailing is an emailed archive of a set of blog posts”! The point being the same thing can be classified in different ways.

My GCSE Topic Map is a ‘folksonomy’ of maths topics produced by a teacher with an instructional agenda – other Maths teachers might produce similar topic maps (perhaps with larger chunks if they are thinking of lessons rather than screencasts). If I were to provide up a tagging system for the topics on the eventual Web site, how would my students tag things? Would their tag clouds help me teach better?

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