¶ Week 5: Question

In the intro to Sorting Things Out, Bowker and Star write about the all-encompassing nature of classification systems, how they shape (and control) our everyday lives and their implications:

Remarkably for such a central part of our lives, we stand for the most part in formal ignorance of the social and moral order created by these invisible, potent entities. Their impact is indisputable, and as Foucault reminds us, inescapable…Each standard and each category valorizes some point of view and silences another. This is not a bad thing—indeed it is inescapable. But it is an ethical choice, and as such it is dangerous—not bad but dangerous. (3 & 5)

As designers and implementers of a classification system we have taken on an enormous responsibility. We have to consider ethics, the needs of the Southern California Library and the South LA community as well as the needs of researchers not affiliated with the library. What kind of ethical choices are we making and/or what kind of ethical questions should we be asking ourselves? What pitfalls might we find ourselves in, be they ethical or otherwise? What steps need to be taken with this project once you have completed your part? Put another way, you only have so much time on this project. What more might need to be done to improve your work? Consider the fact that we are working to make the materials findable to multiple audiences; seeking to represent materials accurately (Is that possible?); creating a controlled vocabulary and proposing possible tagging systems. 

Your response should be no more than three paragraphs.