McLuhan on classification

McLuhan on classification

One for the information architects. It seems that Marshall McLuhan decries classifications, his notion of the primary use of a label is much closer to that of a folksonomy.

The quote taken from this highly entertaining discussion between Normal Mailer and Marshall McLuhan (1968). This is from 14mins 30 secs into the video:

“I’m not much interested in categories or labels applied to anything at all. That belongs to the old literacy, classification… Classified data is fragmented and stays in place, my labels are not easy to classify nor do they stay in place at all. They are fast moving entities, they are like electronic particles which are completely not visual anyway.”

Implicit in tagging and especially folksonomies is that the meaning of those tags is subjective and hence continually shifting based on context, author and viewer. So too with McLuhans labels (in this case he mentions the obvious candidates ‘medium’ and ‘message’). His suggestion is that classification is a hold-over from the mechanical age, and does not belong to our current electronic-speed age, where pattern recognition rules.

Information Architecture Ethical Design

Information Architecture & Ethical Design

A video of my IA summit 2007 presentation:

My presentation at the 2007 IA Summit, in Las Vegas, covering professional ethics, ethics of user experience and cultural ethics.

Subjects include privacy and trust, evolutionary psychology, virtual status and ubiquitous altruism, applied to social networking and the mobile internet.

References: Banksy, the Dalai Lama, Stefano Marzano, Adam Greenfield, Barry Schwartz, Ken Garland, Marshall Mcluhan, and Peter Singer.