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news and thoughts on and around the development of the iCite net
by Jay Fienberg

Cardinal and ordinal worldviews, more on data and desire (response to David Weinberger, part 2.5)

posted: Nov 7, 2003 9:58:18 PM

Today, my job took me to the San Francisco Zoo, where my department had a team building outing that involved breaking up into small groups and wandering around the zoo ;-) I wanted to bring with me a small book that I could read on the train, but also carry in my pocket.

So, I grabbed and started reading a great little book I have called Numbers: The Universal Language, by Dennis Guedj. And, I found that this book has an excellent and very simple overview (i.e., in a couple pages with a lot of pictures) of the types of abstraction that we humans brought into our world with the creation of the various concepts of numbers and the ways of representing them.

In my Data and Desire post, I talked a lot about measurement. But, this little book reminded me that abstractions serve both the purpose of measure and of order. Numbers do both—as the book says: the cardinal measures; the ordinal orders.

Anyway, I was thinking that this book might be a useful resource to read if you are thinking about David Weinberger's Metadata and Desire or about anything I wrote in response to it.

Also, today David links to Clay Shirky's new article, The Semantic Web, Syllogism, and Worldview.

The point I feel it worth emphasizing again is that not only does metadata reflect a worldview, but even simple data does as well. How numbers are represented and how dates are represented are "political".

We have embraced a particular worldview that takes certain representations of things like numbers and dates for granted, as if they are the true representation of the world or even our concepts about the world. And, because of this, I think some of the critiques being made of metadata are failing to recognize the millenia old "political machine" of data behind metadata.

Metadata might be a nasty thing because of data, not because of metadata's meta-ness.

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posted: Mar 21, 2006 6:49:03 PM

trackback from: the iCite net development blog
posted: Nov 8, 2003 7:59:44 PM
title: Semantic web systemantics

Yesterday, I mentioned and briefly commented on Clay Shirky's The Semantic Web, Syllogism, and Worldview. Since then, a number of good critiques of Clay's piece have been posted. These include:

trackback from: the iCite net development blog
posted: Nov 11, 2003 3:58:44 PM
title: Semantic web, my last word?

Since I have been talking too much about this already, I thought I should declare my "last words" on the matter, and move on to some other topics. So, my last words are this:

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