Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Ontology, taxonomy, typology

Notes taken from reading some entries in the Encyclopedia Britannica 1972 edition.

Ontology: a term created by Christian Wolff, german philosopher in the 18th century. The intetion was to denote a sub-area of philosophy to study the theory of being. An ontology states a false or true statment about he world.

Taxonomy, the science of classification in a broad sense, is usually restricted to biological classification and specially to the classification of plants, ans animals. Is name come from Greek: taxis (arragement) and nomn (law) . The seven basic (obligatory) taxonomic categories to identify and classify organisms are:
Kingdon, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species.

Typology: a system of grouping, usually called types, which aid demostratin or inquiring by establishing a limited relationship among phenomena. A typology elicits a particular order depending on the purposes of the investigator and the phenomena so arranged.

To view in more detail: Linnaean system.

Indexes: Medlars, Shepard´s Citation (law), KWIC (Keyword in Context)

Facets is a more versatile scheme than the Dewey Decimal (usually the one libraries use).

I also found: "Owing to a classification error, the location identifier of that simple drawer containing all of recorded human knowledge was lost beyond recall" in a note about science fiction (Hal Draper "MS FND A LBRY".

Using Google I found :

"In Hal Draper's 'Ms Fnd in a Lbry' (1961, in Mowshowitz 1977) information technology is both the effect and the cause of the information explosion. New technology is used to reduce the volume of physical storage required for information sources. But this leads to an ever increasing need for bibliographies, indexes, indexes of indexes, bibliographies of bibliographies and so on. In the end errors lead to the complete collapse of the system."
(cutted and pasted from Imagining Futures, Dramatizing Fears by Daniel Chandler)

Amazing: this triggered my recollection of the Guide (Do not panic!) , a wonderful Douglas Adams creation (see h2g2, as well).

Saturday, February 25, 2006


I just came across an article by Clay Shirky that relates ontology and delicious. I found it a little bit naive, with regard to ontology, but it does present an interesting example of the problems of seeing the world through the lens of General Systems Theory. AOP has found that out, sort of, in a more painful way. See Michael Jacksonbook for an insightful critique of both systems and object oriented modeling paradigms.
Shirky´s observations are on the same path of my quick note. I was amazed that it was the topic of an IEEE Spectrum article (see previous post). Shirky article is a nice way of explanning delicious from the point of view of what is tagging. I am sure we are scratching the possibilities.
I also agree with Shirky in the case of tagging, as more tags you get the better you will be. If this is right, it is yet another evidence that folksonomy, or tagging by the masses is the way to go.
Choosing the tag, tagging, on delicious, I came across an interesting piece by Rashmi on cognitive processes behind tagging. I just glimpsed over it. However from there I found out a very very interesting concept: Game-like Elicitation Methods. I need to look at it more closely.
By the way. I found a nice link for those that like to read more about ontology.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


I have a blog at wordpress.com with the same objective as this one: share some of my views about software engineering in general. There, I use Portuguese. I may post similar observations on the two, but there is no aim to completley mirror each other.

My first observation is the role of google as my extended memory and of delicious as my meta memory.

I recently have found delicious and believe it may be a way of constructing an ontology by the masses. I also have noticed that delicious has a way of directing the construction of consensus by using the principle of a cow-path, that is, the most used path is the best candidate to be the paved path.

Delicious may be a great undertaking by people in building a shared ontology. Let´s see.

Interesting that my observation has a similar understanding by others. Yesterday, I read the last IEEE Spectrum. Amazing,! I found the following article, Folk Wisdom , by Paul McFedries , which address the same issue.

I am curious to see how delicious will evolve, and how the data it collects will be used. It may turn out to be the next google.