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Recapitulating Phylogeny May 17, 2005

Posted by David Card in Search.
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As usual, Clay Shirky is wise. As usual, as an academic who gets paid by the pound, he is incredibly long-winded. Read this, it’s worth it. Why tagging links makes more sense than directories in the long run. (Think Google vs. the original Yahoo.)

There are places where directories work better: stable and restricted entities, expert catalogers and users. Where the ontology is familiar and agreed upon, it adds value.

Shirky ducks the apple the computer vs. apple the fruit issue. I’d say you suggest context options on the fly, based on links that aren’t completely based on popularity. Expert editors, maybe? Links of links? Links of links by expert editors? That’s for the PhDs at Google and Vivissimo and Endeca to figure out.

I’m a guy who once said the Internet wouldn’t catch on until there was a Dewey Decimal system. Yeah, then came search. Who needs XML when you’ve got mass audience/editors?

Oh, and actually, the quote is “Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny,” not ontology, but most people make the same mistake.