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Friday, August 28, 2009

On Taxonomies.

In response to thoughtful Lucy Berhnold's new buzzword taxonomy I left a long comment:

I'm wary of rigid taxonomies, and hopeful that this actually isn't the next trend.

While taxonomies may help drive Open APIs like Civic Actions--and indeed underlie many piles of information-- what's much more interesting to me is the idea that shared language allows for 1. understanding and 2. remixing. "Shared language" as in, for example, when we use the word "organization" we indicate that we mean U.S. based 501(c)3.

My issue with the application of the word taxonomy in the context you suggest is that a rigid mapping of relationships between individual stuffs is not always so great. Linking an address to a zipcode is sometimes entirely different from linking a funder to a grantee. Locking complex, organic entities into a rigid relationship can limit us in unexpected ways. Forcing taxonomic order amongst dynamic entities or issues is a powerful thing. Use it wisely.

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