organizing our future | cleaning up art

<body intent:sarcasm>

<Introduction tone:praise>
An amazing presentation on the benefits of putting 202 into art. Using these methods artists can now estimate the amount of color they would need for their future works.

<illustration> By creating ontologies and structurally separating elements in Art, the interoperability between artists would increase greatly. The BIG RED button would help us generate a 25% Monet + 75% Blake. </illustration>

<Dream> And the best part of all – Computers would be able to make sense of Art, and make decisions about it, just like they should be able to select the best doctor for Lucy (Tim Berners-Lee 2001)</Dream>

ART: I want it organized, just like I want my interface designed by an algorithm, and my Moby Dick in XML. 


</body intent:sarcasm>

<link: foolishTag:to-share>

“…Ursus Wehrli shares his vision for a cleaner, more organized, tidier form of art — by deconstructing the paintings of modern masters into their component pieces, sorted by color and size.”


Comments off

Hierarchically structured logic, thinking and communication

When I was in a business case study club during undergraduate, they were quite obsessive on abiding by a method for structuring the logic and communicating with each other with that. The method or principle is called Minto’s Pyramid Principle, which seems to be widely adopted by many major management consulting companies such as McKinsey & Co. (It is related to a principle called “MECE Principle — Mutually Exculsive Collectively Exhaustive.”) The person who coined this principle herself was a consultant at McKinsey a few decades ago, specialized on business communication.

The reason why I am talking about this is that I realized this principle would look pretty similar with the principle we had studied for devising our own vocabulary when we were doing the assignment 3 or 4. The principle is quite simple to explain. It argues that one should communicate with each other with a pyramid-looking logic, especially in business environment. Let me walk through this process for a second. See the picture below.

Let’s say you are consulting a company. You are trying to argue that the reason the company is suffering recently is that it is losing the customer base of Product A. Without structuring, every reason will be
just linearly enumerated. The listener will be confused with whether the investigation is comprehensive and whether there is no logical gap or leap. You need to structure your logic into hierarchy, so that the
listener can get the point easily and you and the client can be on the same page.

There are two dimensions in the pyramid principle: one is horizontal dimension and the other is vertical dimension of the logic. The horizontal dimension checks whether you achieve comprehensiveness in each layer of your logic without any overlapping. The vertical dimension guarantees that your logic does not contain any logical jump. The lower layer should be able to answer “Why so?” question of the upper layer’s argument. On the other hand, the upper layer should be derived by asking “So what?” after collecting the lower layer arguments. By doing this, you can have a comprehensive, efficient and logical-leap-proof logic for your presentation.

Isn’t this process sound quite similar with information organization principle we used this semester for designing vocabulary?

This principle is very useful when you present your idea to other people and try to persuade them, although the example above was extremely simple. Since they are probably not on the same page with you, you have to have a well-structured logic something like this. If you train yourself with this principle well, I believe that this will be definitely helpful for you from sending a flyer for your party to writing a paper. (I found a link explaining MECE framework. Here.)

Comments off

Dewey or Don’t We?

This article from May 07 is about a library that decided to move away from the Dewey Decimal system and towards a subject based organization. They used 50 subject headings created by the Book Industry Study Group Inc. The library intentionally mimicked certain aspects of bookstores, not only in how the books are organized by subject, but also in physical layout. It appears they are trying to accommodate their customers’ habits and expectations.

For myself, this sounds interesting. I recall while reading Weinberger that I liked book stores and as long as the subject areas are clearly labeled I had little trouble finding the specific book I was seeking. At the very least it was no more difficult than in a library, and usually easier. Of course, this is a small library (24,000 books/dvds, etc). If you are dealing with a larger set of works this may become too difficult to manage.  And it seems more “natural” to me to search for a subject over a number.

However, one of the comments on the article is key (in my opinion) to the bookstore/Dewey decision. “That’s OK for leisure reading, but if you need to do research on a specific topic, you are going to have a hard time finding the particular information that you need.” The additional structure in the Dewey system makes it easier (once you know how to use the system) to find ever-granular information. Most bookstores just lump it all together.

I’ve not been able to find any follow-up information as to whether it worked or not. Their page shows they now have over 30,000 items in the library, but nothing about its current layout/organization or popularity. I wish I’d found this article when we read Weinberger’s piece.

PS: I wish I could claim the title as original, but I borrowed it.

Comments (1)

Fish Debates and Wine Dilemmas

For a new word to make it into the dictionary, Adam Gorlick [1] argues that it has to be more than a “flash-in-the-pan” fad. The word needs staying power to get in. Many word inclusions result from new classifications that emerge as a consequence of globalization and reflect changing usage. For instance, in July 2008, the word “Prosecco” was included in Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate dictionary to mean sparkling Italian wine”. While this was encouraged by marketers seeking to promote it, the inclusion has not been without controversy. Many argue that the inclusion of the word as a synonym for sparkling wine would create confusion about its identity. How is Prosecco different from Champagne except for the fact that it is from Conegliano Valdobbiane in Italy?

Another popular debate involves the inclusion of the word “Pescatarian” to mean a “vegetarian who eats fish”. Referred to as the “Great Fish Debate”, many argue the definition as being an oxymoron that challenges the notions of a simple vegetarian like myself who has all her life known a vegetarian diet to not involve any kind of animal flesh! And now, they tell you can eat fish and still be a vegetarian.. It will not be long before classifications like lacto-vegetarianism, ova-vegetarianism, asian-vegetarianism to make their way into the dictionary.

In this background, it becomes reasonable to askwhat is the impact of such new classifications on every day language use? Do they serve as new dimensions to an existing concept and beliefs or do they simply add ambiguity to it? What is the basis of such classifications and how do they evolve with new discoveries? Does the etymology of these terms reflect changing perceptions of parent terms- for example, does the emergence of Pescatarian reflect openness among vegetarians to expand food options or is it simply a market driven branding technique for fish lovers!

[1] /local/ massachusetts/articles/2006/07/05/mouse_potato_needing_ bling_check_merriam_websters_ new_entries/



Related to Lectures:

3. Information Organization and Retrieval

5. Information Categories

8. Classification

Comments off