I’m in the middle of reading David Weinberger’s book Everything is Miscellaneous, in which “He explains how methods of categorization designed for physical objects fail when we can instead put things in multiple categories at once, and search them in many ways.”
A friend passed on this video of the author talking about the subject matter of the book. He does a good job of condensing the premise of the 233 page book into a one hour presentation. [On a side note, it’s interesting how much non-text visual media can speed up understanding….]
Everything is Miscellaneous essentially makes the same point as Peter Morville’s Ambient Findability. When you take away the physical limitations of only being able to categorise things in one place at a time, you can make it very easy to categorise things by the user’s need at the time, rather than by the intended purpose of the thing or by the context understood by the person doing the categorisation. I think what both of these authors are saying is that we need to get our heads around this faster and stop trying to categorise digital data the way we categorise physical things. It’s the connections we make between bits of digital data that give them meaning, rather than the data itself.