Logical Structures

Clear thinking is an essential part of our existence

When you write thousands and thousands of articles, it’s important to categorise them.  We all know that.   However, it isn’t so easy to know where to start with all these categories because if you create too many nothing makes sense, but if you have too few you can’t find anything.

On the face of it, you might imagine that there are scientific rules to define these things, but you’d be wrong.   There are all sorts of mathematical models but first you have to decide how your little electronic mini-world works.  For all I know, you’ve studied relational database design and reckon you have all the answers, but guess what.  So have I and I’m still as bamboozled as I was all those years ago because the truth is, you can’t fit human life into a  flat grid of categories and sub-categories, processes and entities.  It just doesn’t work that way.

Years and years ago, I had to engage with something called Business Area Analysis, and I found the mental discipline very beneficial for everything except business area analysis.  I studied relational database management systems and it all helped me to be logical in my personal life, but it was plain that you can’t force real existence into computer-based lists.  It just doesn’t work.

I’m finding the same thing today as I re-examine the structure of this site.  Yes, I can set out a hierarchy but it makes no sense in the real world.  Is music an activity or a characteristic of the human soul?  Is sport a form of entertainment or is it a belief?  Everything is cross-linked and uncomfortable for those who design databases.   The world doesn’t like a reality that demands linear responses.  For Greensleeves, press 3.  What about if I only want Greensleeves on a Tuesday and my television has turned purple?

Anyway, that’s why I’ve decided to completely re-evaluate the data structure behind the site.  What it needs is cross-linking, but also more than that.  It needs an intelligent system which, paradoxically, implies the ability to make mistakes.

What’s that? you say.

Very well.  I’ll repeat it.  A fundamental and indispensable characteristic of intelligence is the ability to make mistakes.  Without this capacity, there can be no sentient thought.

Why?  Because intelligence implies exploration and the possibility that a conjecture might be wrong.  This is how discovery develops: we compare our speculations with our experience and we calibrate the results.  Humans are not unique in this process.   Dogs do it.  So do elephants.   Everyone apart from government departments and alternative medicine quacks  are prepared to admit that they might be wrong, because this admission is the very essence of intelligence.  We make a good guess, then we check out the reality and we adjust accordingly.

I think this might present a research opportunity.  All sites like this one are based on one or another content management system.  Some use Joomla.  Others use Drupal.  This one happens to use WordPress, but they’re all fundamentally the same and they’re all based on a fairly weak SQL database system. I just happen to like WordPress because the interface is good and, not being a geek, I don’t want to be writing code just to put my drivellings before you.

It’s not the first time somebody has addressed this flaw in popular website structures and it won’t be the last, but I’d like to make a start on addressing it.  If you’re a regular reader, you’ll be used to my obsession with logic, but even if you’re not, let’s engage with the idea of clear thinking.  Jesus knows, we need it these days.

6 thoughts on “Logical Structures

  1. Hmmm, it would be interesting sketch some alternative solutions and prototype in Lisp….

  2. I find the tag cloud solution works well for accessing relevant articles, if it were possible to combine tags(a search interface I have yet to see implemented which is odd ‘cos it’d be a piece of piss…#thingsToDoThisWeekend) one could quickly get to the relevant articles, of course the author would have to have applied suitable tags to the article…

  3. I don’t have a problem with your site Bock.
    I did notice it has been a bit like a building site in the couple of years I have been visiting it
    and I know you like to tinker. That is how we learn. You also ask people what they think and
    by doing that you are showing that you aware that a blog is about the readers just as much as
    the blogger.

    I come here for the content (words) and I have no problem finding your latest articles. The search
    box works and that is a big plus. I am not interested in the layout or visual design. Just give me
    the words and make it easy for me

    Simplicity is everything and people love simple functionality. When web sites try to be too clever
    they become confusing

    I have studied relational database and web design and I have come to the conclusion that if we put
    all our energy into worrying about the logic if it then the quality of the content suffers.

    Jacob Nilesen and Jared Spool have excellent articles on usability and I would add that field of study
    to my bag of tricks. Also there is an excellent php system called CodeIgniter which might be more
    flexible for you that WordPress.

    In the meantime please keep making is laugh, cry and most of all think. Happy New Year.

  4. It isn’t about how the site appears to the reader. It’s about completeness. Most people wouldn’t know if there was a logical flaw in the structure, but I would and that’s why I”m now sorting out this bit of business.

  5. Bock.
    It is your site.
    I love to read it.
    Whatever makes it easier for you is acceptable. I pray you don’t stop thinking.

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