Why are we still using Dewey to organise our information?
A couple of overall trends that keep me sane regarding the ever increasing speed of change regarding information and the web (when these two trends start to slow down we can all chill out a little more):
- Democratisation: the ubiquity of the web gives greater ability by all to participate in a larger conversation. We can express our opinions to more people more quickly and with less effort than ever before in history.
- Granularity: Things that can be granulated will be granulated. The digital word enables things to be compartmentalised into small bits. Granularising efforts include: alphabet:binary, albumRecord:iTunesTrack, newspaper:blogPost, etc.
With these two trends in mind, I would like to suggest that for the first time in history we are on the verge of realising a truly democratic and granularised classification system (if it can be called that any more?). Previously it was our friend Mr. Dewey who has had the greatest influence in this area (and I do have the utmost respect for the man and myth) despite his isoteric -and partially insane- view of the world. Fortunately, there is a community growing on the web who are practicing the two trends above and are for the first time providing us with the opportunity to all vote on the way our world’s information should be organised. The community is called the microformats community and perhaps the best thing of all is that they do not see themselves as the “end all say all” committee on organising information. Rather they are providing a forum for discussion and best practice where all can come and provide real world example of how data is described and organised. However what they need the most right now is more people, people who care about accessing information the democratic way (not based a way that a single man created a hundred years ago or what a committee or working group is trying to accomplish behind closed doors today). Accordingly this is my vote for this community which I plan on getting more involved in over the days to come. Hopefully some of the fruits of this labour pops up here.