Needless to say, we like classification. It is the sibling of taxonomy – two closely related words that reflect the fact that we encounter large amounts of information in everyday life and our brains need some way to synthesize and contextualize that information. Concepts like classification and taxonomy help us make sense of the world by improving our ability to find important content in an information-rich world. Science News brought this information to us in their article, “Great praise for categories, and seeing beyond them.”

Carl Linnaeus was the father of taxonomy. In his Systema Naturae, published in the 18th century, Linnaeus attempted to develop a scheme that could reveal the divine order in creation. Though he was not the first to label organisms by species and genus, he formalized the modern system of naming organisms called binomial nomenclature. The benefits of this classification system are far-reaching and still applied today.

Classifying data may make us feel comfortable and at ease when all the data is where it “belongs” and can be accessed easily. But it can also make us rigid and less open to new things. It is important to realize the fluidity that living things bring to our world.

Melody K. Smith

Sponsored by Access Innovations, the world leader in thesaurus, ontology, and taxonomy creation and metadata application.