Today's Bedtime Insight: Explicit Categorization is Not Useful for Normal People

Part of the plague of my chronic insomnia is that I find myself having interesting thoughts right as I lay down in bed for the evening.  Which does not lead to a quick slumber.  But today's thinking was significant enough that I wanted to capture it.

I have been playing with some ideas for several years, off and on, around how people can better organize their knowledge.  This could be web links, files in a filesystem, social graph management, their MP3 collection, whatever. Some of the playing around has been thought exercises and some of it is actual Java code that compiles and everything.

My focus has been on smarter use of tagging and categorization, but it has still felt too difficult and I haven't found the perfect solution.  Nothing that would really overcome whatever has kept delicious from breaking into the mainstream.  But as I think about it tonight, I realize that my premise is wrong.  People don't think about things in explicit categories - either as an ontology or even as a folksonomy.

I'm pretty sure that most of the associations I make in my brain are simply graph edge lists.  I have a sense that something is related to something else.  But it's not because of a folksonomy.  I might associate a song with some girl I knew years ago.  Not because they really have anything in common, other than recalling a time and an emotion that's specific to me.  That's not a category - that's a weighted edge in a graph.

To the extent that I do organize information into a personal folksonomy, I suspect those categories themselves are simply additional verticies and not "tags", edge weights or anything else that's more "special".

I'm pretty sure this line of thinking is going to motivate me to rewrite a lot of my software.