Friday, February 27, 2004

Facets and Knowledge Management

As I mull through my own ideas of classification and knowledge management, I realized that there may be a role for facets. Upon consulting the various KM oriented databases, however, there seems to be a real dearth of interest in ransomed! Go figure. While faceted concepts may be a real boon to knowledge classification, they also pose some real historical difficulties. For example:

Personality (supposed to be about the major theme of the work)- theme is all up to interpretation. Ong's work on literate and oral cultures may be interesting.

Matter- classifying matter is tough. Sticking with the basic modern belief in atomic theory, we can look at the troubles that Lavoisier and Mendeleyev had. We can also explore Linnaeus.

Energy (a related activity)- even classifying activities is difficult. Bowker and Star discuss the difficulties inherent with classifying nursing work and even the activity of death!

Space (location)- space is relative. Turnbull's work on maps is quite relevant.

Time- my favourite. We can explore either the trouble with calendars (Julien vs. Gregorian) or even the establishment of standard time zones. I particularly like the anecdote about how European and Russian traders in Alaska ended up a day apart in their transactions!

I suppose the point is that even "universal" and "orthogonal" facets require a lot of social work to make them truly universal.