Paul G.R. provided the link to the Wikipedia article “Folksonomy,” where I found this sentence: “For content to be searchable, it should be categorised and grouped.”
If we weren’t somehow labeled — that is, “categorised and grouped” — how would new readers find us? Granted, one goal is for one’s byline to become a label of its own, a “brand,” in marketing parlance. Stephen King has become a brand; he is his own genre. I think this is what Bruce Sterling is getting at when he says his goal is to make his stories more and more “Sterlingian,” and I can identify.
But those of us with lesser fame than King still need new readers, and while “Bruce Sterling” (for example) may not universally register, “satiric sf” or “cyberpunk” or “near-future sf” or “far-future biotech fiction” might. A label says, in effect, “if you like satiric sf, you might like Bruce Sterling, too.” Angry Robot actually does this on the back cover of its books.
I don’t think Stravinsky thought knowledge of the rules you mutate and break was inconsistent with a sense that the true creative act is a way of going naked: the more you know the rules, the better you distinguish what’s clothing from what’s raw in what you write. The supposition that we do not converse with our models, our peers, our forerunners, that we do not wrestle with various Bloomian anxieties en passant, seems to me somehow masklike.
Paul Graham Raven
Aye, ’tis a wise move on Angry Robot’s part, that. They’re a canny bunch.
I should have pointed out earlier that ‘folksonomy’ is one of that odd set of words that is a member of the class of things it describes (for which I’m certain there’s a specific noun, but I don’t know it).
But the more we discuss this matter of classification, the more it seems clear to me that there’s bound to be an underlying mathematical theory that describes exactly the problem we’re trying to describe. Does anyone have an email address for Greg Egan, at all? 🙂
It seems like every field of human endeavor has to go through a whole lot of ‘Put Specimen X in Box A’ work before we really get into the fundamental truths of the matter. I’m thinking of all the centuries that biologists spent on the “King Philip Came Over For Good Spaghetti” system before they got to evolution and DNA. Astronomers had a similar amount of scut work in the “Oh Be A Fine Girl, Kiss Me” star spectra classification system before beginning to really understand the sequence of stellar evolution. Maybe as a field of study we’re still in that pre-Darwin, pre-Hertzsprug-Russell phase of investigation?
-This argument brought to you by my having read Northrop Frye’s Introduction to Anatomy of Criticism right after Christmas.