CHI-WEB Archives

ACM SIGCHI WWW Human Factors (Open Discussion)


Options: Use Forum View

Use Monospaced Font
Show Text Part by Default
Show All Mail Headers

Message: [<< First] [< Prev] [Next >] [Last >>]
Topic: [<< First] [< Prev] [Next >] [Last >>]
Author: [<< First] [< Prev] [Next >] [Last >>]

Print Reply
Jeff Johnson <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Jeff Johnson <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 17 Jan 2005 22:32:12 -0800
text/plain (64 lines)
Luca Rosati wrote:

>  I'm interesting on the rapport between classification systens and mind,
>  with particular reference to the binomial faceted classification (or
>  analytic-synthetic classification) vs. hierarchical-enumerative
>  classification.

A relevant excerpt from my Web Bloopers book:


Mermaids, Suckling Pigs, Stray Dogs, and Others

The novelist and essayist Jorge Luis Borges wrote of an ancient
Chinese encyclopedia containing a system for classifying animals
(Borges, 1966).  The encyclopedia, probably fictional, was supposedly
entitled Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge.  According to
Borges, it divided all animals into the following categories:

- belong to the Emperor
- embalmed
- trained
- suckling pigs
- mermaids
- fabulous
- stray dogs
- included in this classification
- tremble as if they were mad
- innumerable
- drawn with a very fine camel's hair brush
- others
- have just broken a flower vase
- from a great distance, resemble flies

It is not a classification scheme that we today would consider very
logical.  The categories are arbitrary, overlapping, non-exhaustive,
and subjective - skewed by the perceptions of the scheme's supposed
author.  It is these characteristics that make the scheme seem
humorous to us.


Borges, J.L., "The Analytical Language of John Wilkins,"  Selected
Non-Fiction, ed. Eliot Weinberger.  New York: Penguin Putnam, 1999.


See also:

Jeff Johnson, Ph.D.
UI Wizards, Inc.
Product Usability Consulting


        Tip of the Day: Forward out-of-office replies to
                    mailto:[log in to unmask]
     CHI-WEB: POSTINGS: mailto:[log in to unmask]
              MODERATORS: mailto:[log in to unmask]