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Animals that Belong to the Emperor

  Failing universal classification schemes from Aristotle to the Semantic
  Quaero Forum, Maastricht
 Florian Cramer
 The weapon with which state-subsidized European search technology
  projects allegedly intend to beat Google is semantic information
  This vision is twofold,
  involving a number of classic holy grails of computer science:
   1. to provide search on the basis of Semantic Web meta tags,
   2. to have software recognize the contents of web pages in order to
      automatically apply those tags.

Theseus project

  Founded and pursued by Tim Berners-Lee, the original architect of the
  World Wide Web, the "Semantic Web" is a term and project that is not
  only prone to major confusion, but also emblematic of how the
  alienation between engineering and humanities goes both ways:
  shockingly naive and simplistic understandings of cultural concepts
  among the former, and a complete misunderstanding of the "Semantic Web"
  among the latter because its terminology of "semantics" and
  "ontologies" is plainly weird or mystifying outside computer science.
  Natural language question parsing indeed is another holy grail of
  Artificial Intelligence research, parodied by Weizenbaum's "Eliza", and
  tried by Web search engines from "Ask Jeeves" - which renamed itself after deemphasizing its original concept - to "Powerset",
  recently brought up by Geert Lovink on the Nettime mailing list
  TIM B.LEE-> he conceives of the Semantic Web as a universal, unified
  markup or "meta tagging" system: "Instead of asking machines to
  understand people's language, it involves asking people to make the
  extra effort".

The Semantic Web promises to overcome folksonomies with one, unified
  and standardized keyword tagging system that can applied to anything.
  In other words, it is a universal classificatory description system
  and grand unified hierarchical meta tag tree. In line with computer
  science terminology, but sounding mysterious and idiosyncratic anyone
  else, Berners-Lee calls this classificatory system an "ontology",
  making the project particularly confusing for people with backgrounds
  in philosophy and humanities - because what he and computer science
  call "ontology" is, outside such jargon and in a more common sense
  language, not an ontology, but a cosmology.

Just as cosmologies are by no means new, so are universal classification and tagging systems of all things in the world.

Medieval and Renaissance classificatory cosmologies could only work on the basis of a stable assumption of what the world is and how it is structured: for example, by the four directions, the four seasons, the four temperaments

Borges' "Ficciones".

  On a more practical (but nonetheless cultural) level, the Semantic Web
  relies on a clean room illusion of a culture where semantic tags
  wouldn't simply be used for spamming and search engine manipulation
  which are already common enough for Google and other search engines to
  ignore meta tags embedded into web pages. 

"I have registered the arbitrarities of Wilkins, [and] of the
    unknown (or false) Chinese encyclopaedia writer [...]; it is clear
    that there is no classification of the Universe not being arbitrary
    and full of conjectures. The reason for this is very simple: we do
    not know what thing the universe is