Friday, 10 October 2008
The smell of rotting chains.
Jo Guldi has been blogging recently about folksonomy and 'navigation in chains', and has called for a open ended approach in which users tag content, and in which free standing sites are opened to the manipulation of a public audience. But, opening the 'archive' to its users is only an interim solution. The problem is deeper than this, and lies in the very notion of 'keyword searching', and in search based on structured tagging as well. Both are very blunt instruments, and simply re-enforce an older style of iterative research. As a result, the search engines created by free standing sites, of which Guldi complains, are themselves sad interim solutions to new problems, and will wither as new ways of searching are created (the chains will rot in short order). Tagging, is again, just one more interim technology (a strategy derived from the 1980s, and well past its sell-by date). All of these creations are based on the notion of the 'library', on ordered information and the existence of an 'index', and Guldi is simply arguing about who should have the right to order it. I believe this is all just so much renaissance detritus (a worthy subject of study, but not a working methodology). What is missing are the new tools that allow you to do things differently in the infinite archive. With 100 billion words of digitised text (whatever the actual number becomes), I want to find the patterns that I cannot imagine, and which even an infinite army of folksonomic taggers could not reveal.