Sunday, October 29, 2006

Get classified

So far I've spent most of the weekend peeking into the world of subject classification schemes or indexing systems. (Yeah, what a party animal.) I want to find a better way to label the posts on my quotes blog, because:

(a) it's a process I HATE!! and it's driving me CRAZY!!
(b) the previous method of listing keywords (probably an idiot's attempt at a controlled vocabulary? not sure), was becoming unworkable - the list was getting longer than the whole archive of posts;
(c) I've started the blog again, right from scratch, so it's a second chance to get the foundations right.

So. Classification and indexing and so on. I've never had to think about them before. They're essential processes that keep the world running, but they trundle along behind the scenes, unnoticed and unappreciated, like all those other foundations and infrastructures and important thingies we rely on without even realising:
People passing through the city often mention the trees. They never mention the pattern over which they pass.

- D. J. Waldie, "Suburban Stories," The Kenyon Review vol. XIV, no. 4 (Fall 1992): p. 135.
Boo for us people.

Anyway, one of the heroes of classification is a person with possibly the best name in the universe, Mr Melvil Dewey, who was responsible for the Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) scheme, now one of the most commonly used systems worldwide. The DDC divides recorded knowledge into 10 main classes, 100 divisions and 1,000 sections. In fact, it trumpets:

All recorded knowledge has a place in the DDC

!!! Big claim. Maybe that's true, and maybe it isn't, but either way, schemes like the DDC are brilliant, and so were the people who invented them. I don't know how they did it. I can't even organise a small group of blog categories.

I downloaded a copy of the DDC Summaries (from that previous link), hoping to just run through the list and choose labels from it, but it's probably not going to work. And I'd go ahead and explain why I think it's not going to work, except that I've been stuffing around trying to write this blog post for two hours now, and I'm tired. Who the fuck cares why it's not going to work? It's just not going to.

So back to the plodding then.