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Banish the miscellaneous?

When both Oprah and Lifehacker, two of the most respected names in Life Advice, both recommend not labeling things “miscellaneous,” a lonely-yet-proud voice must speak up. (I mean me, by the way.)

First, telling us to “banish” the miscellaneous is silly. We have miscellaneous drawers and bins because classification schemes are imperfect. Go ahead and try to follow Oprah’s and Lifehacker’s advice on your kitchen’s miscellaneous drawer. You’ll either have to create so many ridiculous sub-divisions that you won’t remember them, or you’ll have to force objects into categories so thinly related that you can’t remember where you put them. That’s why you have a miscellaneous drawer in the first place.

Second, their complaint is about the use of the the miscellaneous category for physical objects. In the digital world, giving objects multiple categorizations and allowing multiple classification schemes — what I mean by the miscellaneous in that book I wrote a couple of years ago — makes more sense than trying to come up with a single, perfect, fits-all-needs, univocal classification system.

Viva la miscellaneous!

6 Responses to “Banish the miscellaneous?”

  1. Emerson said, “Finish each day and be done with it, you have done what you could, some blunders and absurdities have crept in …” Every task, every project, every day, every system, every life has these stray events, these random bits of chaos that inevitably creep in. Having a miscellaneous drawer is a sensible way of managing the unmanageable.

  2. Provocative as it is, your title “Everything is miscellanous” is ultimately true, because as you’ve pointed out, classification schemes are imperfect and lead to ridiculous sub-divisions. Useful as they are, that’s where all classification schemes lead.

  3. Joho the Blog » Banish the miscellaneous?…

    Joho the Blog » Banish the miscellaneous?…

  4. Not only the idea of banishing Miscellaneous is stupid – it is dangerous. Trying to pigeonhole everything, physical objects or digital phenomena is like pretending to know everything about the thing in advance – whatever it is – a physical gadget to be used in the future or a blog entry. The truth is – we cannot know ALL in advance. It is 2b2k :-)

    If we pretend we can – that leads us to order the world around us. And the concept of “well ordered world” proved itself to be very dangerous – to say the least….

    However, reading Oprah’s “10 habits of highly ..” it seems to me that this habit was thrown there rather casually – so I don’t pigeonhole it into my hole of bad things :-)

    Viva la miscellaneous!

  5. Joho the Blog » Banish the miscellaneous?…

    Joho the Blog » Banish the miscellaneous?…

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