Wednesday, April 02, 2008

The problem with human tagged objects

A post about Libraries and the Occult at MorbidFrog (via BoingBoing ) talks about how occult books are handled in libraries. Further discussion involves how this problem occurs in bookstores, and is even taken online.

Occult books are often put away in many different sections of the library. They are found in religion, psychology, fiction and other sections. This is in part due to the organization of the Dewey Decimal system, but the problem even happens online.

Searching for occult books at Amazon gives similar results, the books are given a variety of labels:
Religion & Spirituality -> New Age
Religion & Spirituality -> Occult
Reference -> Encyclopedias
Books (just books, no category)

With tags and such, one can label something with multiple meanings, but humans can skew these labels according to their own views. Depending on the religious and cultural viewpoint many topics, including the occult, and not, will be labeled differently and cause problems when searching.

It is important to take into account the point of view of the humans that assist in tagging content as we move onto the Semantic Web.

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