Om Malik on Being Categorized by Data

Om Malik writing in his blog:

Categorization is part of the human condition. Our brain uses categories to help us make sense of a lot of facts we experience. It is how we learn. As humans, we need categories to contextualize our world, and that includes each other. What is more important is the intent behind the categories.

Categories, as such, have bias by intent. The bias allows us to ignore variables we don’t want to deal with and place boundaries around a category. It’s important because by ignoring them, we have to use fewer cognitive resources. The bias itself is not good or bad. It is the intent that leads you in different directions. That intent determines what variables we focus on and the ones we ‘choose’ to ignore.

Malik reflects on how “in our post-social society, these categories have become even more granular and metastasized.” A worthwhile read for anybody who categorizes things for a living — e.g., information architects.

The Perils of Data Categorization – On my Om