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SIGIA-L Mail Archives: Re: [Sigia-l] Blasphemy: Ontology is Overrated?

Re: [Sigia-l] Blasphemy: Ontology is Overrated?

From: James Melzer (jamesmelzer_at_gmail.com)
Date: Thu May 05 2005 - 14:00:12 EDT


Well, Library of Congress maintains a whole slew of different
classification schemes. I don't think any of them is technically an
ontology. You can find a list of the cataloging-related ones here:
http://www.loc.gov/catdir/cpso/
The two biggies are LC Classification and LC Subject Headings (LCSH).

I think the technical term for both of these is 'screwy hybrid' not
ontology. They are sometimes faceted, sometimes precoordinated,
oftentimes arcane. However, Shirky's claim that these could be easily
replicated is silly hyperbole. They are screwy precisely because
building them is pretty darn hard.

Shirky's greatest condemnation of library schemes - that their need to
facilitate physical storage has weakened their utility for information
retrieval - is right on the money. Trying to use LCSH on something
subjective like art or religion or the social sciences is just asking
for trouble. Sure you can find a good category to put things in, but
half the world will disagree with you.

~ James

On 5/5/05, Peter Van Dijck <peter_at_poorbuthappy.com> wrote:
> OK, "ontological successes such as the Library of Congress's
> classification scheme are easily replicable."
>
> Is the library of Congress's classification an ontology? I am not
> familiar with it, but someone answer so we can refute this claim if
> necessary. (Ontology is when you have a web of relationships between
> topics, like a topicmap for example.)
>
> Peter
>
> Listera wrote:
> > <http://www.itconversations.com/shows/detail470.html>
>
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-- 
James Melzer
--------------------------------------
"Choice, the problem is choice." - Neo
------------
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