Categories
writing

Bringing order to semantic chaos

Because my brain stays scattered, my use of tags, categories, or other methods of classifying items in a manageable taxonomy is haphazard at best. The idea of successfully using tags has intrigued me for years. Just try to imagine what I was thinking of when I produced something, type in a few key words to narrow it down, and find exactly what I was looking for along with other closely related files that may be helpful.
The concept of semantic organization by something like tags first struck me when I began to use DEVONthink ((for serious research I am also a fan of DEVONagent Pro)) after reading how Stephen Johnson uses the software (a meta-article about his essay Tool for Thought published Jan. 30, 2005, in the New York Times). Building a hierarchy of tags has been possible on a Mac since at least Mac OS X 10.5 as OpenMeta and Apple is bringing tags to the forefront as a key new feature of Mac OS X 10.9 (codename Mavericks, expected to ship fall 2013).
The thing is, I never committed to using tags. I would use them for a while, then forget about them, then remember them and begin tagging again, then forget again. This vicious cycle leads into a useless and confusing void. One of the challenges

Categories and tags on CaSt

This website is a steaming example of such nonsense and I hope to prune back the problems starting here, even backtracking for a bit as time allows. With my recent migration to WordPress, I have both categories and tags at my disposal and plan to use both. ((I plan to use a category at the least to be refined with tags.))
One reason tagging gets out of hand is the unintentional replication of tags. Huh? Consider these examples:

  • operating system
  • operating_systems
  • os
  • mac os x
  • macosx
  • osx

Yeah, it can get crazymaking pretty fast. My plan moving forward is to create broad categories refined with descriptive tags, enabling CaSt readers to trim their diet to suit their interests. Think of it as a two-level hierarchy with categories as the folders and tags as the files in those folders; something like this:

  • tech
    • ios
    • macosx
  • writing
    • quotes
    • authors
    • blogs

In my head, and therefore on this site, categories will be singular (like sections of a library or book store) and tags will be plural (because a ‘writing’ category full of of ‘quote’ doesn’t make sense).
Now, if I can just stick with it.