Ontology is Overrated

The role of categories in life has always been slightly interesting to me. At Comcate v1.0 of the software had one hierarchy – a citizen had to choose Potholes OR Trees OR Police. Then we moved to categories and subcategories. Now, many moons and versions later, we are still grappling with the best way to treat categorization of cases. In blogging, I categorize each post in one category (Web/Tech, Entrepreneurship, Current Affairs, Books, etc) but it’s always felt a little weak to me. In the past few months I discussed how “tags” and categories in the technical sense don’t really reflect how humans think with my friend Tim Taylor. I also electronically discussed mutual scratching-of-head over the interface/process of Del.icio.us with Seth Levine.

Clay Shirky has a must-read essay up on why ontology is overrated and the history and future of categories, links, and tags. Basically he says the Yahoo Directory ways of categorization are dead and that a world if binaries is over. He also brings up a provocative philosophical question: does the world make sense or do we make sense of the world?

Link: Shirky: Ontology is Overrated — Categories, Links, and Tags.

One Response to Ontology is Overrated

  1. hollis where says:

    Ben, that was a great article — thanks for sharing. I feel newly empowered, and will carry my ability to link things off my blog with new-found importance. :) And clearly, we make sense of the world.

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