6.4. A Walk in the Park
As we build our Internet of objects, the permutations of sociosemantic metadata will create new avenues of findability. Where has this object been? Which objects were in close proximity to this object? Who touched my object? Where are they now? The era of ambient findability will overflow with metadata, as every object and location sprouts tags: social and semantic, embedded and unembedded, controlled and uncontrollable.
Imagine the sensory overload of a walk in the park. Every path shimmers with the flow of humanity. Every person drips with the scent of information: experience, opinion, karma, contacts. Every tree has a story: taxonomies and ontologies form bright lattices of logic. Desire lines flicker with unthinkable complexity in this consensual hallucination of space and non-space, a delicious yet overwhelming sociosemantic experience.
How will we make sense of this tower of babble? In the midst of this cacophony, to whom will we listen? Who will we trust? Will we rely on formal hierarchy or free tagging, library or marketplace, cathedral or bazaar? Will we place our confidence in words or people? And are we talking about cyberspace or ubicomp? The answer lies in the question, for we will not be bound by the false dichotomy of Aristotelian logic. To manage complexity, we must embrace faceted classification, polyhierarchy, pluralistic aboutness, and pace layering. And to succeed, we must collaborate across categories, using boundary objects to negotiate, translate, and forge shared understanding.
Of course, even with all this sociosemantic cooperation, the road ahead is long and winding, with many paths not taken. Our ability to make informed decisions will depend on how we allocate attention and trust, how we define authority, and how we employ metaphor. As Alfred Korzybski, the polymathic founder of general semantics, taught us "man's achievements rest upon the use of symbols" and yet "the map is not the territory." We would do well to recall his words and meaning as we take our walk in the park.