My Own Private Taxonomy

Much of my work over the past 15 years has concerned fitting bits of knowledge into one taxonomy or another.

What I was working with the PEI Crafts Council on creating a database of crafts supply sources, I had to come up with a taxonomy of crafts — stained glass, weaving, pottery, and so on — to organize my suppliers.

The InfoPEI project on the Province of PEI’s website, is really just a home-brew taxonomy used to organize information about the province (and we had many debates during its development about what the taxonomy should look like).

Working with Yankee we face challenges like “astrology really isn’t astronomy, but should it go on the astronomy page?”

Here on the weblog the question is to how to best organize the 2,955 posts I’ve made. For the longest time my answer was “not at all.” Or at least “in reverse chronological order.” With RSS feeds, it became possible (and expected) to assign categories to blog posts, so I dreamed up a set of categories — my own private taxonomy. It looks like this, in part, in my weblog editor:

Partial list of my weblog post categories

With my new set of categories I could select a place in my taxonomy for my new posts (and I went back and categorized a good chunk of the archival posts too).

That worked well for a while.

Now I’m running into a new problem: as the weblog world adopts tags, I’m finding my category system too limiting. I want to tag a post “davidletterman”, not just “television.” But I don’t want to lose the hierarchy of the taxonomy because I use this to organize my blog archives and the category-specific RSS feeds.

So I’ve modified the home-brew blog editor to make my category system far more flexible. For any given post I can now select an existing category for the post, or it one doesn’t exist, I can enter a new one (both a “plain english” field and a “tag” version). For example:

How I add new categories (tags)

In this case I want the new “David Letterman” category to be a subcategory of “Television,” so I select that, enter the new category information, and the new category gets created as a child of “Television.”

The danger, of course, is that my taxonomy will lose value once it becomes a tree with hundreds of branches. But, for the time being, I have a lot more granularity at my fingertips, which is, I think, a Good Thing.

I’m filing this under “Taxonomy,” a sub-category of “Weblogs.”


Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on July 2, 2005 - 19:27 Permalink

After upgrading, I’ve realized that the next step is to enable multiple categories/tags for each post. Off I go…

peter pumpkin eater's picture
peter pumpkin eater on July 12, 2005 - 08:29 Permalink

wow.. these are such grueling questions, how do you spleep at night all with worrying about the order of your blogs ,i would die , just die…….. by the way i am being sarcastic if this is theonly problem you have then i would say your set.