MIT 1700 Lecture “A Brief History of Order” February 15, 2011
Week 7: A Brief History of Order
Accessibility is supa important when it comes to Information. If information were just
about storage, it would be easy. But eventually we might want to make use of it, so we need to
have a means of retrieving it. In order for this to happen, we have to organize this loose
confederation of Information that is useful and accessible to us.
- Information needs to be organized: The 3 Orders of Organization
- Historical models of organization (a selective mix tape)
- Carolus Linnaeus
- Melvill Dewey
- Paul Otlet and the Documentalists
- Astronomical Union
The 3 Orders of Organization
- Physical Partitioning
- Organizing rooms (Socks go in one drawer, shirts in another)
- Everything has a place
- Spatial Organization
- Cataloguing systems that facilitate searching for information and finding it.
- Dewey Decimal System at library, card catalogue
- Spatially referential
- Digital Organization
- Ability to transfer information through proximity and analogy.
- If you misspell a search term, you can still locate the info. you’re looking for plus
- Most familiar with this: dynamically referential. Allows info to be catalogued in an
infinite number of ways.
- Grocery Layout Manipulation:
- Making you walk through all the snack foods, chocolate and magazines to get to what
you really want
- A way of using information to manipulate you to purchase more product (that you
didn’t intend to come buy)
-“Stand and Scan”: we walk into the store and scan the store in a few seconds about
whether or not we’re going to continue into the store and possibly buy something. The
information that’s coming at you has to entice you, not just the front of the store.
- Information is used to manipulate you at a commercial level.
- This is completely moot in a digital environment (shopping online).
- But their flashiest products will probably be on the home page, they’re still coming at
you with the best deals and stuff.
- They’re still limited by space on their web server
- There needs to be something to organize info, or it just sits there.
- Photos taken on a vacation (1000 pictures)
- Upload them all to computer
- their file names aren’t revealing (DSC00079.jpg) MIT 1700 Lecture “A Brief History of Order” February 15, 2011
- a numerical list doesn’t reveal info. content to us.
- What happens when we have too much digital photo files to sort through?
- We are less discerning about the pictures we take because of digital cameras. Do we need 40
pictures of one thing?
- Our pictures are snapped in such a way that if we were to print them all out, you could do a
whole flip book of the vacation. Every moment is recorded.
- Do we really have the time to sift through 1000 pictures, weeding out the doubles, triples.
- So much easier to dump and forget our information, but there comes a time when you want to
find a specific picture but you can’t find it.
- Flickr (Able to label photos we share)
- Facial recognition (iPhoto)
- iTunes helps you organize songs.
- Problem with metadata:
- Sometimes mislabeled, listed as a lyric within the song, but not the title of it.
- which genre does a song go under?
- Lumping and Splitting
- We put everything together, then later split things apart into prospective categories.
- Evolution of Retail Industry
- Walmart diversifies its’ product line by adding more sections (now has groceries)
- Loblaws now sells electronics and clothing
- This is successful because of convenience, but this will not always be the case. At a
certain point there is far too much choice and too many options. When this happens,
stores split off into things that specialize in a few items.
- Walmart - lump, Boutique - split
- Department stores can be overwhelming.
- Diversified vs. Specialized
- Allows for both systems to operate simultaneously (digital systems)
- We can access information according to whatever criteria we choose, online.
- Only available through digital organization
- Divised a system for sorting everything in the Universe.
- Believed that entire Universe could be packed up and sorted on account of what makes certain
things similar or different.
- Decides that everything can be reduced to “being” or “not being”
- “Stuff exists, or it does not”
- All things exist have a universal quality, existence, or a particular one (a cat has life, a rock
does not) Aristotle divides this Being category into 10 further categories (Substance, Quality,
Relatives, Somewhere, Sometime, Being in