tagging changes categorical systems

Clay Shirky has a nice article on how the electronic world questions and changes categorization systems versus the emerging strategies of tagging. He establishes a fine line of explanation on how the seemingly non-systemic naming systems developed mainly through user adaption create new possibilities in adressing and connecting issues and themes.

… The signal loss in traditional categorization schemes comes from compressing things into a restricted number of categories. With tagging, when there is signal loss, it comes from people not having any commonality in talking about things. The loss is from the multiplicity of points of view, rather than from compression around a single point of view. But in a world where enough points of view are likely to provide some commonality, the aggregate signal loss falls with scale in tagging systems, while it grows with scale in systems with single points of view.
It’s all dependent on human context. This is what we’re starting to see with del.icio.us, with Flickr, with systems that are allowing for and aggregating tags. The signal benefit of these systems is that they don’t recreate the structured, hierarchical categorization so often forced onto us by our physical systems. Instead, we’re dealing with a significant break — by letting users tag URLs and then aggregating those tags, we’re going to be able to build alternate organizational systems, systems that, like the Web itself, do a better job of letting individuals create value for one another, often without realizing it….

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hm .. this reminds me that I wanted to change my category system since a while already ….

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