Tuesday, March 3, 2009


The main problem, and the main benefit, of the Internet is that there are no editors. For little or no money, anyone can create a Web site, or start a blog, or even just join a social networking group, and begin spewing out whatever words, images, animations, videos, or other media he or she wants to. Even producing medium to high quality audio, video and animation is within the budgets of most hobbyists. So producing information is not the problem.

The challenge lies in consuming. Specifically, in selecting what to consume. Web surfers are confronted by vast landscapes of everything ranging from strident political rants to pictures of lolcats, and everything in between. Or as someone (?) once said, "Everything you might want to know is on the Internet, but not in alphabetical order."

So how do we make sense of this? The current term of art is ranking. Some Web intermediaries, such as Google, have closely held secret ranking schemes and algorithms which are, in essence, their primary value added. The basis, as with other popularity measures, is to rank according to recommendations or, in Google's case, links from other sites. More exotic schemes, such as the genome concept of Jinni (also discussed here) attempt to automate the process of characterizing both the content and the consumer's preferences.

All of these are efforts to bring order, or taxonomy, to the otherwise vast and chaotic deluge of content. This is THE NEXT BIG THING. Google's incredible success is almost entirely due to their partial solution, and other breakthroughs will change the landscape for everyone. So it seems logical we should be able to compare organizational, or taxonomic, approaches to information content. I propose the term taxonometry to describe the measurement of taxonomies. It fits semantically, and I like the way it sounds. Remember ... you heard it here first.

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