Clay Shirky gets it with brilliant “Ontology is Overrated: Categories, Links, and Tags” compendium

I’ve been preparing (yeah, on a Sunday) for a series of hands-on training sessions I will be giving to knowledge workers in Ottawa this coming week and have been defragging and optimising the IM issues in my mind. Although I am a tech guy, I have always kept IM and KM issues close to my heart and remember… IT exists primarily to provide IM solutions!

It’s rare that I see such eloquently simplified presentations such as Clay Shirky has done in Ontology is Overrated: Categories, Links, and Tags …

There’s a good reason why that particular piece is PageRank 6! If you have to explain modern ways of managing information, or why the file system is dead (yes, the file system is dead, finito) and how the Internet has changed the way we manage information…

This article is a must to understand modern ontology…. and why it doesn’t always work.

But this is the ontological dilemma. Consider the following statements:

A: “This is a book about Dresden.”
B: “This is a book about Dresden,
and it goes in the category ‘East Germany’.”

That second sentence seems so obvious, but East Germany actually turned out to be an unstable category. Cities are real. They are real, physical facts. Countries are social fictions. It is much easier for a country to disappear than for a city to disappear, so when you’re saying that the small thing is contained by the large thing, you’re actually mixing radically different kinds of entities. We pretend that ‘country’ refers to a physical area the same way ‘city’ does, but it’s not true, as we know from places like the former Yugoslavia.

A perfect example above…

En passant, pour mes lecteurs francophones c’est un bon article a lire si vous aimeriez accroitre votre vocabulaire en anglais et particulièrement si vous êtes dans le domaine de la gestion de l’information ou, encore, dans les technologies de l’information qui facilitent la gestion documentaire, etc.