Taxonomy and Sexual Identity

Not to beat a dead horse, but this article in the New Yorker about the South African running champion Caster Semenya makes some very interesting connections between the androgynous runner's sexual identity and the historical politics of racial classification in her homeland., a quick classifier

Just announced:, a real-time text/URL classifier. The API isn't available yet, but you can play with it via the web site. It looks like it's based on vector analysis against a set of generic topic documents, and could be handy for spring semester projects. I just threw the first page of the 202 blog at it with the following result:

Classification Systems are Biased, Absolute Classification Systems (i.e. the Census) are Biased Absolutely

Are people who live in a country without permission actually people? This question, and a host of other headscratchers, are being raised by a house bill sponsored by David Vitter, R-La., and Bob Bennett, R-Utah that proposes amending 2010 census to include immigration status. This can have a big impact on population-dependent congressional apportionment, especially in immigrant-heavy states like California and Flordia.

On DEVONthink

And now, a word about DEVONthink. They describe it as a "smart information assistant", although you could think of it as a sort of MyResearchBits.

"Deliberately obfuscating the definition of cigarette"

Who knew that package size was a distinguishing property of cigars? From the WSJ, working around a recent ban on clove cigarettes, a company has rebranded their product as cigars.

Recommind CORE Offers Semantic Doc Storage

 I was looking up Reommind, one of the companies at the career fair from yesterday, and low and behold they have a software platform offering automatic categorization of enterprise documents based on context as their stored.  hmmm this sounds an awful lot like semantic classification to me. 


Check it out:

Being counted

From an article in today's Oakland Tribune:

The computers of the U.S. Census Bureau collected data about same-sex couples in the last census and, in effect, responded: "does not compute."

Any woman who reported she lived with a wife in the 2000 census, or any man who said he lived with a husband, was considered a statistical glitch.

Kurt Vonnegut on indexes, bias

 The point about how every classification scheme is biased reminded me of this passage from Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle, on why you should never index your own book:

How Would a Fool Sort Things?

Feeling like a fool after doing your faceted classification assignment? If so, you might get a kick out of a Malcolm Gladwell review of this book on intelligence, which addresses problems with modern IQ tests — particularly in the area of sorting. A few 202-ish excerpts:

It’s Brand New, but Make It Sound Familiar

In the NY Times this morning, there's an article about the importance of comparing new technology to existing and familiar technology, so that people can understand what the new stuff is and how it should be used.

The article states "Humans instinctively sort and classify things. It’s how we make sense of a complex world."

Another quote that I like, this time about the Segway: "...Professor Markman said. “Nobody was quite sure what it was,” he said. “There was no clear analogy, so people had no idea how to use it.”

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