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Human Touch

Human Touch: “If “rocket” did mean the same thing to everyone, it would be far easier to sit back and let software create taxonomies and classify content without human intervention. But sadly, we’re still picking classification terms out of long drop-down menus and clicking “submit.” Content managers begin to see cross-eyed, corporate librarians revise and retrain. Is there a happy medium? What amount of “the human factor”—the influence that people bring to the process of creating a taxonomy and subsequently, tagging content—really makes sense?”
Classification is primarily a sense-making activity. It’s why we create folders in email programs, stacks of paper on our desk, file folders for personal finances, organize our books, etc. We classify to make sense – so that we can see in groups rather than in individual elements. Essentially, we are seeking patterns to reduce our cognitive load. The problem of classification rests in the rigid structure often adopted – i.e. we have to label items (books, files, knowledge) according to a taxonomy someone else has created. And it doesn’t work in many disciplines anymore. We have become used to seeing ourselves in our information. We read our identity into what we encounter (through tagging, blogging, commenting, etc.). It’s less about the knowledge itself, and more about how the knowledge relates to what we think and feel. It’s about sense-making. And in order for sense-making to work today, we require fluid taxonomies…driven by use and discourse, not advance planning.