Clay Shirky, “Ontology is Overrated,” roughly 24 and 37 minutes in:

Some people say they’re interested in movies. Some people say they’re interested in film. Some people say they’re interested in cinema. And the cataloguers’ first reaction viewing that is “Oh, my God! That means you won’t be introducing the movies people to the cinema people!” Good! Right? The movies people don’t want to hang out with the cinema people. Right? These actually encode different things, and the assertion that thesaurusizing or collapsing vocabulary deals with signal loss assumes that there’s no signal in the difference itself. Right?

And when we get to really contested terms, right, politically contested terms, right, by this point all the signal loss is in the collapse, not in the expansion, right. Oh, the people talking about queer politics and the people talking about homosexual agenda – they’re really talking about the same thing. Oh, no, they’re not! If you think the movies and cinema people were going to have a fight… right? […]

Look for the word “queer” in any top-level categorization – in fact, any categorization in the Library of Congress: You will not find it anywhere, right? even though, as an organizing principle for a large group of people, that word matters enormously, right? You don’t get those kind of discussions around traditional categorizations.

Actually, they do have it (example), just not as an “authorized” heading, save for a single entry under Queer as Folk. (Before I get any more mail on this, you can search for queer yourself by using a Guided Search under Subject (All).)

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2005.04.24 16:38. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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