To complete my MS in Information Architecture and Knowledge Management at Kent State I did some research on folksonomies and how the can support information retrieval. I compared social bookmarking systems with search engines and directories. I’m hoping to see the results published in an academic journal. In the mean time, you can see a pre-publication copy of my results:
Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim line up of shows has become a real force in pop culture. It’s ratings now demolish late night mainstays like The Tonight Show and Late Show With David Letterman among 18- to 24-year olds (by 24 and 56 percent, respectively)1. Aqua Teen Hunger Force, created by Matt Maiellaro and Dave Willis, is an illustrative example of the kind of programming drawing viewers from more traditional fare to Cartoon Network. In the show, animated anthropomorphic fast food items Frylock, Master Shake and Meatwad deal with an equally colorful array of enemies, including the alien Mooninites, Inignot and Err. The three protagonists live in a house in New Jersey, next door to Carl, their human and not particularly friendly neighbor.
The show has reoccurring characters but little in the way of overarching themes, continuity, or logic. It commonly employs foul language (although the worst of it is beeped), explosions, and gross-out humor. It would be easy to dismiss it as yet another artifact of the steady decline of western civilization – although that attitude is probably premature. People have been bemoaning the decline of civilization at least since Socrates was put to death for corrupting the youth.2 There is more to this show than a surface reading would betray, and the characters of the Mooninites provide a good example of why.
The Mooninites are very popular among the show’s fans. Proof can be found in online discussion forums – in one, they are voted funniest villains by four out of nine posters.3 The characters were obviously inspired by early arcade and Atari games. Their spaceship, for example, would fit in perfectly in Space Invaders, and the sounds made when they walk, jump, or fire their lasers seem to come directly from games like Pac Man. Their bodies are squared and pixelated, as if they were rendered with limited processing power. The theme of alien enemies descending randomly from space is seen in many classic games, from Space Invaders to Galaga.
A Taxonomy Primer, Warner, Amy J. (2002)
Ten Taxonomy Myths, Montague Institute (2002)
The Taxonomy Primer was pretty straightforward, but the Myths were more interesting. I especially liked myths 1 and 2, because I think when most people think taxonomy they think of a single, giant, all-encompassing tree that everything fits into exactly. It can be very useful to have a number of taxonomies for the same information, and there are some great examples on the web, where a site my be organized by product type but then also by region or customer group, allowing browsing from each perspective.
One image I found particularly enlightening was in the Svenonius article, where taxonomies were described as â€œelaborate Victorian edificesâ€ and contrasted with â€œjerrybuilt systems [that] could meet the needs of most users most of the time.â€ This is an excellent description of where library people and web people seem to have a disconnect. Coming at thing more from the web side myself, I often think of grand schemes to classify everything and put everything into neatly labeled boxesâ€”like Dewey or the Library of Congress Classification Schemesâ€”as too big, too elaborate, and too old. I this is why many of the people who first started organizing information on web sites and the like don’t look to library science for inspiration, despite the wealth that is there. Most of the web people have only worked with systems that are small enough to be informal, personal enough to be ideosyncratic, or targeted enough to simply model how current users talk about the information already. In other words, jerrybuilt.
Later in the chapter, though, the writer states that organizing information is different from organizing anything else, and is in particular not to be done with â€œroutine application of the database modeling techniquesâ€ used in business. While I agree that organizing information would be substantially different from organizing employees, the rationale given (something to do with works and differences in editions of them) lends itself really well to more-or-less common relational database structures. I think there are important issues, but too often the issues I see brought up are superficial.