[unrev-II] faceted classification

From: Alex Shapiro (alex@touchgraph.com)
Date: Tue Sep 25 2001 - 22:29:04 PDT

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    Read more at http://peterme.com/archives/00000063.html --Alex

    ... faceted classification, one of the most powerful, yet least understood,
    methods of organizing information. Most folks, when thinking about
    organizing objects or information, immediately think of a hierarchical, or
    taxonomic, organization; a top-down structure, where you start with a
    number of broad categories that get ever more detailed, until you arrive at
    the object. In such structures, each object has a single home, and
    typically, one path to get there--this is how things are organized in "the
    real world", where each item can only be in one place. Oftentimes, when
    thinking of organizing information, a hierarchy is where people begin
    (think Yahoo!).

    Faceted classification, on the other hand, is a bottom-up scheme. Here,
    each object is tagged with a certain set of attributes and values (these
    are the facets), and the organization of these objects emerges from this
    classification, and how a user chooses to access them. Toys, for example,
    lend themselves to a faceted classification, with the facets being things
    like, "Suitable Age," "Price," "Subject Type," "Brand," and even
    "Character" (like Barbie or Elmo). Someone might be price conscious, and
    want to start there; another knows that the child in question loves science
    toys, and wants to begin with that. Faceted classification allows for
    exploration directed by the user, where a large dataset is progressively
    filtered through the user's various choices, until arriving at a manageable
    set that meet the users' basic criteria. Instead of sifting through a
    pre-determined hierarchy, the items are organized on-the-fly, based on
    their inherent qualities.

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