Reading Response to: “Smart Leaves”

This chapter begins from the history of the UPC.  The need to organize the products under one system, one bar code shows how we as humans operate in this world.  This chapter nicely touches up on the organization by comparing the two orders with one another, exposing the nature of the rigid vs. faceted structure.  In the second order (rigid structure) the manufacturers “declare” what gets tracked with the bar code, where as in the third order – or the digital order – the user defines those IDs that define what the “smart leaf” is.

The UPC code developed in the post-war era and implemented in the 1980s today has outgrown itself.  In the world of such complexity as ours is very diverse, we need a multifaceted structure that has both rigidity for its skeleton and flexibility to define product under multiple IDs.  in reality we have a manufacturers on one side, stores in the middle, and buyers on the other side.  In 1998 a new code was developed.

The new UNSPSC provided a more detailed system of numbers defining everything under a “giant 5-branch tree” structure classifying everything from “cats” to “voting rights.”  The two systems are integrated but can’t completely merge together because UPCs are used for products and UNSPSC used for raw materials.

Now with RFID tags, the items can have a much larger description and be better tracked, however, when we have bar codes on cereal boxes and RFIDs on pieces of clothing, it is not easy to “pin down” the intellectual content.  This is when the rigidity comes in handy.

BBC’s archive holds millions of items.  Every one of these items is accurately labeled by fields such as title, subject, and date of air.  With this the first initiative to make the leaves smart was to add more standardized metadata, so the episodes of a series, for example, would be recognizable by a computing system.  A formula to the tagging has to be at place that would define a wide array of items from the series to a single frame.  So producers can find a particular shot and a viewer can find a particular episode or the entire series.

Unlike BBC’s collection, the uBio (Universal Biological Indexer and Organizer) is a taxonomy of the 21st century.  It is “entirely a third-order idea.”  The scientific names of certain fish often have several descriptions.   So, instead of using one name, David Remsen uses all names and instead of using one taxonomy, he compiles them all.

The two-proned strategy the author talks about here is the Include and postpone, where eBio includes every possible name, on the other hand it postpones when it comes to the classification, due to each scientist may have a different opinion, its like a multiple scientific pools contribute to one tree.  But is too many solutions makes it worse? How do we decide what is what and how it has to be organized.  There is too many of us and we are organizing too many things in too many ways.

What matters? What is essential?  Essentialism is what seems to be adding the “R” to the rigidity also makes the world more manageable, but it misses the miscellany of the digital world, the dark matter, the viscosity, that keeps the users together and develop the defining the very essence of the market itself.  Users are clustered into groups in searching for answers.

Defining a leaf is talking about how information is generated by a query.  We collect a huge pile of leaves together in order to organize a tree when someone needs that tree to answer a query.

Until this chapter, I kept a hope for this class to answer me a question if we can come up with a ones single structure, an organization, a deep hierarchical order or a database (a drawer) to help us swim in the informational ocean.  But, that has melted like a first snow with reading this chapter.  As I understand, Ted Nelson’s logic, is there is no one subject, everything is interwingled together, in a third order of order everything becomes a one giant pool of knowledge created by interwingularity.