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Where should I post this?

October 8, 2010

(My blog turns three this month, so I’m reworking some of the older posts that never got read. This is an example of one of my early favorites)

When computers first started to spread, it made sense to create folders. The real world had folders, so creating folders on computers seemed logical. Why not copy the real world?

Only problem is, the digital things that go into digital folders aren’t real. Either are the folders.

They aren’t real to the computer. In fact, early computers needed help organizing data into nice little pockets.

In the real world, order is dictated by physics. People sit in offices, eat in lunch rooms, and place paper into paper folders that go into file cabinets. If a file is in one cabinet, it can only be in another one if it is copied. Each thing can only be in one place.

But online, things aren’t constrained by physics.

There’s a great book called Everything is Miscellaneous. It talks about the Web offering the ability to order things that we want to share online in just about any conceivable manner.

Online, there isn’t a need for order. Things are merely 0’s and 1’s and computers don’t need an elaborate hierarchy to find them. A ‘file’ can be tagged “New Business”, “Retail”, “TV Script”, “funny” , etc. In fact, there’s no limitation on how to tag content. And since a tag is just a search term, the more tags we use, the better chance people will find them.

Tags are digital file folders.

That’s why things are miscellaneous.

Including this post.

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