Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The difficulties of taxomomy: categories are not so easy to proscribe.

When moving my emails to my Gmail account from Hotmail, I wanted to replicate the folders in the new labelling system. It proved tricky as the system allows multi-labelling and it lead to me wanting to describe things more fully than the previous folder system had allowed. This made me want to then limit myself as too much explanation was becoming worse than too little. So, I voted for Gmail to move to a folder system in their suggestions box, along with asking for a better sorting system for labels/folders (sent date, read date, sender, subject, etc.) - a more advanced search function would also be helpful - I want to search for certain words within labels but that isn't currently possible.

Foucault's Order of Things has a preface that describes his reading of "a passage in Borges, out of the laughter that shattered, as I read the passage, all the familiar landmarks of my thought - our thought, the thought that bears the stamp of our age and our geography - breaking up all the ordered surfaces and all the planes with which we are accustomed to tame the wild profusion of existing things, and continuing long afterwards to disturb and threaten with collapse our age-old distinction between the Same and the Other. This passage quotes a 'certain Chinese encyclopaedia' in which it is written that 'animals are divided into: (a) belonging to the Emperor, (b) embalmed, (c) tame, (d) sucking pigs, (e) sirens, (f) fabulous, (g) stray dogs, (h) included in the present classification, (i) frenzied, (j) innumerable, (k) drawn with a very fine camelhair brush, (l) et cetera, (m) having just broken the water pitcher, (n) that from a long way off 'look like flies'."

Well, it would seem from item (h) that this is really just an appendix to the 'real' list and travels from ownership (a, g), physical attributes (b, e-f, j, n), others (h, l), to how one renders their physical attributes (k) and their habits (c, d, i, m). There isn't even a system within the design and order of the system.

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