The Strange Case of Eugenics: A Subject’s Ontogeny in a Long-Lived Classification Scheme and the Question of Collocative Integrity
Tennis, Joseph T.
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Classification schemes are built at a particular point in time; at inception, they reflect a worldview indicative of that time. This is their strength, but results in potential weak- nesses as worldviews change. For example, if a scheme of mathematics is not updated even though the state of the art has changed, then it is not a very useful scheme to users for the purposes of information retrieval. However, change in schemes is a good thing. Changing allows designers of schemes to update their model and serves as a responsible mediator between resources and users. But change does come at a cost. In the print world, we revise universal clas- sification schemes—sometimes in drastic ways—and this means that over time, the power of a classification scheme to collocate is compromised if we do not account for scheme change in the organization of affected physical resources. If we understand this phenomenon in the print world, we can design ameliorations for the digital world.
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