There Is No Cat

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Friday, January 24, 2003

A different kind of facet

Peter Van Dijck has been working on an XML-based language to describe faceted classification schemes, and finally people are starting to notice. I think Peter first posted about this to SIGIA-L last May. The IA Summit in Baltimore last year had a fascinating session on the topic of facets (1.6 MB PowerPoint file).

The idea of facets was developed decades ago by an Indian librarian named S. R. Ranganathan as an alternative method of classifying books and other items that a library would tend to hold. The idea was that you could classify items based on multiple characteristics. Unfortunately, you can't shelve books in more than one place, which made a practical implementation of such a classification scheme not really possible. But items in a computer don't have a physical manifestation, and can be in many "places" (classes) at once. It's interesting that something developed so long ago is only really becoming possible now. It's also interesting to see this start to spread beyond the province of Information Architects.

The 2003 IA Summit takes place in a couple of months. Unfortunately for me, it's on the other side of the country, in Portland, Oregon, and it happens at a time when I really need to be here in New Jersey preparing for my wedding. That's a shame, because I learned so much at the Summit last year, and because the lineup looks particularly intriguing this year, especially since the committee managed to snag Stewart Brand to give the keynote. It looks like a fascinating conference. Oh well, maybe next year.

Posted at 9:54 PM


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This site is copyright © 2002-2018, Ralph Brandi.

What do you mean there is no cat?

"You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Do you understand this? And radio operates exactly the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat."

- Albert Einstein, explaining radio

There used to be a cat

[ photo of Mischief, a black and white cat ]

Mischief, 1988 - December 20, 2003

[ photo of Sylvester, a black and white cat ]

Sylvester (the Dorito Fiend), who died at Thanksgiving, 2000.


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