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Friday, April 01, 2005

Ontology is Overrated 

Clay Shirky
Does the world make sense or do we make sense of the world. If you believe that the world makes sense, then anyone who tries to make sense of the world differently from you, is presenting you with a situation that needs to be reconciled formally. Because if you get it wrong, you are getting it wrong about the real world.

If we make sense of the world, if we from a bunch of different points of view are applying some kind of sense to the world, then you don’t privilege one top level version of sense making over the other. What you do instead is try and find ways that the individual sense making can roll up to something which is of value in the aggregate, but you do it without an ontological goal. You do it without a goal of explicitly getting to or even closely matching a perfect view of the world.

So it’s all context dependent and this I think is what were starting to see with del.icio.us and flickr and other systems. Ways of building these systems that doesn't assume that the structured hierarchical categorical systems so often forced on us by the physical system is going to continue. Instead we are dealing with a radical break where rebuilding around the URL and the flexibility of the link, we will get an entirely alternate ...

Topics: Categorization | Ontology | Folksonomy | Meaning


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