Towards a typology of classificatory change

David M. Pimentel


Classifications of all types invariably change in response to shifting conditions in the information environment. Revising the contents of subject-based schemes is an important type of change, but the phenomenon of classificatory change has multiple interrelated aspects that go beyond content. Conceptually isolating these aspects offers a starting point for describing and comparing different types of classificatory change. The typology proposed here attempts to situate classification schemes within a context of use, interacting with other elements of the information environment. As the digital information landscape continues to evolve, there are increased opportunities for classificatory innovation. While hyperlinks have become a pervasive element in the repertory of knowledge organization, the hypertext technique of transclusion has received considerably less attention. Transclusion offers an alternative way to envision the relationship between digital resources and classification schemes. Examples from the English-language Wikipedia demonstrate how transclusion is used in the digital encyclopedia to embed modular subject-based schemes that supplement knowledge navigation and discovery.

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