Classification in the wider philosophical perspective of informational ontologyClaudio Gnoli (Universita' degli Studi di Pavia)
Authors like Dewey, Otlet, Bliss, Ranganathan, Vickery, Kyle, Foskett, Austin and Dahlberg have developed a rich corpus of classification theory and practice, covering important techniques like facet analysis and ordering by integrative levels. The advent of digital information was an opportunity to organize it by such techniques, but unfortunately this heritage has often been forgot in the illusion that automation made it unnecessary. Nowadays classification is subsumed in the field of knowledge organization, which covers the conceptual ordering of contents in libraries, archives, museums, digital collections and knowledge in general. We propose a broad view of knowledge organization as an intellectual guide to learning and scholarship grounded in philosophical ontology, the study of the kinds and categories of being. Established classification principles can play a role in the production of general schemes of phenomena. The recent informational paradigm suggests that there are relationships of formal dependence between the major levels of reality: forms, matter, life, mind and culture, as each of them is a new way of modelling other phenomena. In particular, the macro-level of culture is often reduced to the label of "social" but it actually covers several sub-levels, including services, institutions, customs, creative arts and scholarship, which have their own characteristics. Documents, library and information science and knowledge organization systems considered as real phenomena belong to the level of scholarship. Therefore they should be studied not just as mental or social phenomena, but especially for their distinctive characters such as scientific communication channels, openness to criticism and cumulative knowledge recording.