HierarchyConsideredHarmful

Too often, we force our data into a tree hierarchy, when some other organization would be more appropriate.

“Intertwingularity is not generally acknowledged – people keep pretending they can make things deeply hierarchical, categorizable and sequential when they can’t. Everything is deeply intertwingled.” – Ted Nelson [1]

Hierarchy is a useful tool to wield when organizing. But once a hierarchy or any other categorization has been imposed, however, it can be difficult to “refactor” (modify), and the existing hierarchy or categories can shape the work we are trying to fit within it – this can be caused both by the system itself (software, for example), as well as our own mental inertia. (see also: MetaPhysics)

Alternatives

There are AlternativesToHierarchy. Many wiki follow some sort of OrganicOrganization?. Instead of a hierarchy of subjects and pages, they just have pages point to pages, and everything sort of works. (Though, not to everyone’s satisfaction.) You have patches that have tight interconnection and an internal order to them, as it is found.

Most common is the use of category tags, of some sort. UsingTags has become common for WebLogs, too.


CategoryHierarchy

Various Thoughts

(older, not yet worked in)

Discussion

This page has been very fragmented and disconnected, which is too bad really. Considering how much this is something that we want to say, and how gloriously radiant the title is- It’s practically beaming.

This page should be a manifesto, I feel.

I’m just working on sweeping this up just a bit in the meantime.

My present thought is that hierarchies emerge from perspectives, and there are multiple perspectives, and we keep changing our perspectives.

Hierarchies are harmful in all the ways that perspectives are harmful. That is, by being attuned to see one thing, we must miss some other thing.

But this does not mean that perspective (perspectives) is (are) bad.

They are a necessary fact of life, and thus (if anything) good.

The thing to remember is that no hierarchy (or perspective) is total.

To go to the theological point, the God of Reality is not a hierarchy, though we experience it as such, because we see through perspective. Buddhists have similar sayings about the “Void,” being itself undivided.

1 Corinthians 13 seems to speak to the point, but I’m not a Bible scholar, so I can’t really claim it.

  • 8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
  • 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
  • 10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
  • 11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
  • 12 For now we see through a glass, darkly, but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

I understand the passage to be about (as far as I can tell,) fundamentally about humility, but it’s talking about charity, so I think I may be missing something essential to the passage.

8 seems to be speaking to the ParadoxOfExpression, as does 9 (“know in part.”)

The Chinese character for “Understand” (or “Know”) is a knife, cutting into two parts (division, separation.) Buddhists have devoted untold volumes of writing to this principle.

In fact, the point is so belabored, I’m just going to stop writing now. :)

Had a thought about this. Added it at the top. Please move or rephrase if it’s not clear or doesn’t fit this page.

Ah, right – that effect, I wrote about it on the page “MetaPhysics.” That page’s name should be changed, to something like “Way - Of - Seeing - Influences - World” or something like that.

One of my emerging (and rapidly growing) beliefs about MicroContent is that it must be capable of existing in both a positional structure like TheArray? (formally published this week… Yeah! and Thank goodness that’s done!), as well as in TheCloud? (this year’s WIP).

After all, one of the commonly accepted and expected aspects of Categories is that an object can be enclosed in multiple containers, unlike the general file system constraint that says there can be only one (of that exact name) within any folder.

Setting this as a criteria for something to be called MicroContent then opens up several additional considerations (depending on Context). For example, I am currently tryiung to define a common subset of Content Names (and Markup) that allow the same wiki source to appear in the readers choice of OddMuse or TiddlyWiki (as a GUI). Other issues … CSS, C-Side versus S-Side constraints, etc all come into play quickly too.

Forcing data into a tree hierarchy of abstractions causes some problems. There are AlternativesToHierarchy.

Forcing people into a tree hierarchy of authority also causes some problems. See DoOcracy and The Starfish and The Spider wiki and AboutVoting for some alternatives.

Define external redirect: TheArray TheCloud OrganicOrganization

EditNearLinks: WebLog

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