As part of our work on the UW Technology Service Catalog we had to agree on a taxonomy into which we can arrange our services. Despite my years in library school, whenever I have to do a classification exercise I am always struck by the ways in which any classification scheme is at some level an arbitrary decision to freeze one particular view while excluding many other possibly equally valid ones.
In preparing for a presentation today I came across a couple of good quotes that show that this is not an original observation.
“Crude classifications and false generalizations are the curse of organized life.”
– George Bernard Shaw
“Inanimate objects are classified scientifically into three major categories – those that don’t work, those that break down and those that get lost.”
– Russell Baker
Those, of course, go along with Duke Ellington’s famous observation that
“There are two kinds of music. Good music, and the other kind.”