Sunday, August 06, 2006

All is ephemeral...Everything exists in context...ontology is overrated...but, you know, we must do something

Ob 1. We're rebuilding our Web world at MPOW, which includes not just the library's Web site, but a collection of community-based, topic-specific sites as well, oh, and we're completely cleaning house and installing an entirely new content management system, new calendaring system, new search appliance, everything is on the table, and this means we've been thinking about the nature of search and meaning. (Have I mentioned that I have the coolest job in the world?)

Ob. 2. This morning as I've been upgrading my OS and running clean-up utilities on my rather neglected home computer, I've been catching up on my reading. On 5/18/2005 I printed off Clay Shirky's article, Ontology is Overrated: Categories, Links, and Tags. Since then, it's been sitting in my to-read pile, and yes, I have cleaned my desk since 2005, but this article has survived all attempts at de-cluttering, because I knew I wanted to read it, and I didn't want to read it on the screen. And now, I think that the grand forces of the universe have been wise to distract me from it, saving it for the perfect moment when I would need it and be in the right frame of mind to internalize it and act on the implications.

Ob. 3. In our house, gender roles aren't defined by x works inside the home/y works outside, or by other traditional designtations, but rather by Erica works with the computer, Larry works with the home entertainment system. And this morning, as I've been running OS utilities and squealing with delight at sentences like, "One of the biggest problems with categorizing things in advance is that it forces the categorizers to take on two jobs that have historically been quite hard: mind reading, and fortune telling," Larry has been playing with our digital surround sound system. After testing it, he played various DVDs to appreciate the difference in audio experiences, and he just played Magnificent Seven. And he played this scene just for me:

Townspeople milling about and trying to figure out how to solve a particularly difficult issue: in this case, how to stop Calvera (the bad guy) from taking all their food. They propose various options. A, B, C...X, Y, Z...Finally, exasperated by the options...
Townsperson 1: "We must do something."
Townsperson 2: "But what?"
Townsperson 1: "I don't know."
Townsperson 3: "We'll ask the old man. He'll know."

Old man: "Fight."

All is related. The fight for me is more of an internal struggle. Admit that there is no perfect system of classification. The nature of the search isn't dependent on a perfect system of pre-defined metadata. Now, how to create something that is "of value in aggregate" but "without an ontological goal" of a "perfect view of the world."

Everything is ephemeral.
Everything is contextual.
Beta 4-ever.

"There is no quality in this world that is not what it is merely by contrast. Nothing exists in itself." ~ Melville


Blogger erindowney said...

...adding "embraces 'beta 4eva!' concept" to my list of desired qualities for tomorrow afternoon's gathering...

7:30 PM  

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