The Visible’s Information Architecture (IA) uses the Modern Classification System (MCS). The MCS is itself built on the shoulders of Melvil Dewey’s Decimal Classification system (DDC).

Originally published in 1876 — the same year Alexander Graham Bell applied for a patent for their telephone — Dewey’s Decimal Classification systerm was originally developed to organize and manage the library collections at Amherst College.

At the time, there were relatively few books in anyone’s collection anywhere, and the habit was to just put them on the shelf wherever there was room, as they trickled in.

Dewey’s classic system, sporadically and often shyly evolved, is currently in use in an estimated 200,000 libraries across 135 countries worldwide. More than half of these, admittedly, are located in the United States (116,867) – but that means almost half of them are located elsewhere (42%).

000 – Information Science

This is where a Dewey Library’s Software Manuals are shelved — 004-006 – not, as mainstream culture often seems to suggest, in the 600s (Technology (originally “Useful Arts”)).

Here also are books on the history of books and books on journalism and fake news.

Worth noting, at this juncture, is the classic rubrication of Encyclopædias (030). The brilliant breakthrough of Dewey’s system is its systematic nesting of sets of 10s to organize all knowledge. General encyclopædias, as an Information Science, are thus rubricated as follows:

030 – General Cyclopædias

  1. American
  2. English
  3. German
  4. French
  5. Italian
  6. Spanish
  7. Slavic
  8. Scandinavian
  9. Other

This 1876 way of seeing the world is replicated throughout Dewey’s system, except in the 900s (history). In stark contrast, the Modern Classification System completely overhauls this somewhat myopic ordering as follows (in alphabetical order):

  1. African, North
  2. African, South
  3. American, North
  4. American, South
  5. Asian, East
  6. Asian West
  7. European, East
  8. European, West
  9. Oceania

Besides in 030, these two conventions for organizing the known world are replicated throughout both the Dewey and Modern classification systems in Religion, Language, Art and Narrative Art. There’s no room for an “Other” in the Modern Classification System, in any of those cateogories.

Examples of Pressing Public Conversations in this category include:

TALK

Suwajanakorn, Supasorn. Faking News. 2018.

Wales, Jimmy. Introducing Wikipedia. 2009.

NOTE

Zhang Yimou Exploit. 2017

TAGS : Data Literacy · Wikipedia

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100 – Cognitive Science

To this day, Dewey Libraries allocate this category for works on “Philosophy & Psychology”. ‘”Philosophy” is Greek for love of learning — so it is an impressively imprecise term. Everything in any library is arguable Philosophy. The Modern Classification System deprecates this classic convention in favor of a label designed to focus primarily on what’s been happening to the field of human cognition since 1876 — of which “Psychology” (or the Logic of the Psyche) is considered a subset.

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Dweck, Carol. The New Psychology of Success. 2013.

NOTE

Title. Date.

TAGS

Mindset · Neuroplasticity

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200 – Religion

When library scientists want to launch a conversation about how desperately outmoded the classic Dewey DCC System is, the first example they typically use is 200 – Religion to illustrate the absurdity of the situation. In Dewey’s day, in western Massachusetts, the only religion deemed worth mentioning by name was Christianity, meaning not Roman Catholicism because that’s been shelved with Other Christian denominations, along with the Eastern Orthodox traditions and Protestant faiths of “Continental Origin” – by which is clearly not meant the continent of North America – is similarly othered, as are Presybytians, Baptists and Methodist.

Even Judaism, the cornerstone of the Abrahamic faiths on which the Christianity is founded (not to be confused with The Old Testament) , is relegated to a shockingly small corner in “Other”, next to Mormonism, which, if you can believe, is “no longer used” because, somewhere along the way, the ALA decided it qualified as an Other Christian Denomination.

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Lastname, Firstname. Title. Date.

NOTE

Title. Date.

TAGS

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300 – Social Science

Ask virtually anyone for an example of a work shelved in Social Science, they will typically identify something along the lines of Sociology for Dummies – myself included, before I took a closer look. But this is where Sun Tzu’s Art of War and Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations are huddled. Militarism and Economics are both huge fields of endeavor in the Social Sciences.

TALK

Carr, Nicholas, The Glass Cage. 2014.

Tufekci, Zeynep. Persuasion Architectures. 2017.

NOTES

Chiobu Face. 2021.

TAGS: Attention Economics · Machine Learning

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400 – Language

This is the first code that dramatically illustrates the myopia of the 1876-Present Day system. There are an estimated 7,139 languages spoken, today, on planet earth. Dewey Libraries, in stark contrast, mention 7 by name — and they’re all European: English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Latin and Greek. In that order. Russian is shelved under “Other”, as are Chinese, Korean and Japanese. Attempts to find texts on learning Cherokee or Bantu (the Latin of Africa) met with resounding failure.

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Boroditsky, Lera. Language Shapes Thought. 2017.

Polinsky,  Maria. Cognitive Advantages of Bilingualism. 2015.

NOTE

Rethinking Robots. Date.

TAGS: Bilingualism · Comparative Linguistics · Neology

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500 – Natural Science

The current conventional system labels the 500s as just “Science”. But, clearly, that decision was made before we realized that Information, Cognition, Society and Language are all also built on their own unique edifices of carefully tried and true scientific inquiry. So. It’s not enough to say just “Science”. We must answer the question, “what kind of science?” In this way we can track the fact that Nature has its own unique brand of Science, not to be confused with Applied Science, also known as Technology (coming up next).

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Lastname, Firstname. Title. Date.

TAGS

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600 – Technology

Classically, this category referred to as Applied Sciences. Three of today’s better known Technologies, in this sense, include Medicine, Engineering and Farming. This is where we are when we have acquired a firm foundation in our field, or its science, and we are thus qualified to push the envelope of our craft and perfect its art.

Telecommunications, it’s worth mentioning in this context, is a Social Science.

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Lastname, Firstname. Title. Date.

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700 – Art

Here we have an example of where a field of endeavor has been put substantially morphed in the last hundred years. When we have developed enough expertise to begin to explore new horizons, we are not just painters and musicians, superb Engineers and Diplomats are also Artists. Keyword: superb.

Properly speaking, this category would be more appropriately labelled Aesthetics – but that would smack of elitism, in today’s culture-scape. Things that have been moved by the Visible, since the American Library Association have had something to say about it, are Sports, which have been moved to Social Science (300), and Film, which has been moved to Narrative Art (800).

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Lastname, Firstname. Title. Date.

TAGS

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800 – Narrative Art

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Lastname, Firstname. Title. Date.

TAGS: Film Studies · Storytelling

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900 – History

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Lastname, Firstname. Title. Date.

TAGS