More from Sorting Things Out

September 20, 2006 at 1:03 pm Leave a comment

More comments from Sorting Things Out: Classification and Its Consequences by Geoffrey C. Bowker, Susan Leigh Star

P.32 Speaking of Information Infrastructure, a good usable system disappears almost by definition.  The easier they are to use the harder they are to see.

p.35 Definitions of infrastructure: embeddedness, transparency, reach or scope, learned on membership, linked with conventions of practice, embodiment of standards, built on installed base, visible on breakdown, fixed in modular increments.

p.54 people juggle vernacular (or folk) classifications together with the most formal category schemes.  They subvert the formal schemes with informal work-arounds. 

p.61 classifications system types, Aristotelian, and Prototype.  Aristotelian works according to a set of binary characteristics that the object being classified either presents or does not…can be monothetic if a single set of conditions…can be polythetic if a number of shared characteristics are used.  This is what’s used in traditional science, geology, biology…. The Prototype system is fuzzier, theory proposes we have a broad picture and we extend this picture by metaphor and analogy when trying to decide if an object fits.  We call up the best example and then see if there is a reasonable direct of metaphorical thread that takes us from the example to the object under consideration. 

Supervenient and subvenient are neat words I guess related to convenient.

p.68 “To communicate information in the aggregate, we must first classify….”

p.82 The sharing of information resources and tools is a dimension of any coherent community….on the other hand, any given social world itself generates many interlinked information artifacts: information artifacts undergird social worlds and social worlds undergird these same information resources.

p.86 The ICD [a medical classification system] carries with it its own context.  This is a common feature of classification systems.

p.87 To tell stories of the sort we are most familiar with one needs objects in the world that can be cut up spatially and temporally into recognizable units….p.98 partly because that’s the way the world is and partly because that is the only way that science as we know it can work.

p.103 Precision always beats no precision…and (John King?) “Some numbers beat no numbers every time”

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