CUT(ter) AWAY THE CHAOS OF YOUR VAULT WITH THIS ONE (two three four five six) SIMPLE METHOD(s)

Introduction

Hello from your local knowledge organizer! you might remember my earlier posts about Cataloging, Classification, Information Science, PKMs and YOU! my recorded episode Merging library & information science and PKM - How Bri Watson uses Obsidian, or my community talk Obsidian Community Talk: Knowledge Organization in Obsidianon the same topics.

Unlike all of those other things, I’m going to say that if you’ve been using obsidian for awhile, you’re not going to find this post useful at all. That’s great! I’m not interested in changing systems that work for y’all.

However, I am here today with this quick little forum post in the hopes that it serve as a useful for beginners. I was inspired to write this post because of the nearly-daily (more than daily?) questions in the #knowledge-management Discord from PKM beginners, usually along the lines of “help how do i organize this thing/all of these things aaaaHHH”

Don’t fear—cataloging and classification is here! This post will largely be about the latter (classification) and not the former.

A quick definitional refresher from my earlier forum post (why can’t we transclude things in here??)

catalogue, n.

Etymology: < French catalogue, and < late Latin catalogus, < Greek κατάλογος register, list, catalogue, < καταλέγειν to choose, pick out, enlist, enroll, reckon in a list, etc., < κατά down + λέγειν to pick, choose, reckon up, etc

  1. A list, register, or complete enumeration; in this simple sense now Obsolete or archaic.
    2. Now usually distinguished from a mere list or enumeration, by systematic or methodical arrangement, alphabetical or other order, and often by the addition of brief particulars, descriptive, or aiding identification, indicative of locality, position, date, price, or the like.

classification, n.

Origin: A borrowing from Latin. Etymon: Latin classificatio. Etymology: < post-classical Latin classificatio (1673 in a German source; 1767 in Linnaeus) < classical Latin classis class n. + -ficātiōn- , -ficātiō 1. The result of classifying; a systematic distribution, allocation, or arrangement of things in a number of distinct classes, according to shared characteristics or perceived or deduced affinities. Also: a system or method for classifying. 2. The action of classifying or arranging in classes, according to shared characteristics or perceived affinities; assignment to an appropriate class or classes.

Simply put: Cataloging is what we call things, the subject headings, aliases or tags, we give them. More information.

Classification is where things go, either on a shelf or in a computer system and so on. More information.

CUT(ter) AWAY THE CHAOS!

If you’re new to Obsidian, if you’re overwhelmed with files, and if you have definitely decided on folders (which I think is better, but to each their own) Today, I want to introduce you to Charles Ammi Cutter, your new bestie:

CharlesAmmiCutter BostonAthenaeum.png

I’m not going to delve deep into the biographical details here, but suffice it to say that Cutter is still referenced every day in libraries around the world. His name and ideas (Cutter Numbers, Expansive Classification) are still praised and cursed. Instead, I want to focus on a book he published in 1891 with the very exciting title of: Expansive Classification

Cutter found Decimal Classification, invented by the godawful “father” of modern classification aka Serial Sexual Harasser Melvil Dewey too limiting (give Christianity tons of numbers and shove the rest of the world’s religions into 10), yet at the same time too complex. Imagine trying to remember that you have a folder numbered 301.1543012917492705694 and it’s about ‘Arab Attitudes Toward Israel)’ and you’ll understand what he meant.

Furthermore, many small libraries did not have need of a massive organizational system. Instead, they needed something small. So Cutter devised the Expansive Classification to be used from libraries that are teeny-tiny (your first few obsidian notes) to massive and gigantic ones.

Cutter completed and published an introduction and schedules for the first six classifications of his new system (Expansive Classification: Part I: The First Six Classifications), but his work on the seventh was interrupted by his death in 1903. Although his methods didn’t exactly sweep the nation, Library historian Leo E. LaMontagne wrote that:

Cutter produced the best classification of the nineteenth century. While his system was less “scientific” than that of J. P. Lesley, its other key features – notation, specificity, and versatility – make it deserving of the praise it has received.

What’s more, is that it went on to serve as the basis for the Library of Congress classification, which is now the world’s largest and most common organizizing system (it’s literally thousands of pages, I promise you don’t need anything that complicated).

So how does this relate how I organize my Obsidian notes??? (skip here if you just want the goods)

WELL, HERE WE GO!

Expansive Classification (which you can read here) was designed in seven separate schedules (read: seven groups of folders), and each of these was meant to be used by libraries of different sizes. This means that Cutter’s system can be used by libraries (read: note collections) that are teeny-tiny (your first few obsidian notes) to ones that are absolutely freaking gigantic. Each schedule builds upon the previous one, and there are plenty of instructions on how to expand things.

I’ll include the first four below to get you off to a good start!

But, first: a note of caution (and an example!)

I don’t expect you to follow his system to the exact letter—nor should you!! Cutter was an old white dude living in the 1800’s and… the world has (thank god) changed a little since his days!

Seriously, make this system yours! Here’s an example of a folder I’ve made combining Johnny Decimal with Cutter. Here is my “everything else in the goddamn world folder,” aka 400 - Society. Philosophy. Psychology. Religion:

10. Reference. Prolegomena. Propaedeutics – reference things
15. Productivity & Psychology – brain goes burrr
20. Philosophy & Religion – jai guru deva om and all that
25. Education – i learned real good
30. Society. Media. Journalism – god, literally everything
50. Historical Sciences & Book Arts – ALL OF HISTORY
60. Natural, Applied, & Social Sciences. Medicine. Geography – me telling you i’m in the humanities without telling you—this is like all of science
70. Computer Science. Digital Humanities. The Internet & Linked Data – i do some techy things
80. Arts. Languages & Literature. Recreation. Culture – fun things (i don’t do them)

As you can see, these are absolutely gargantuan categories—there are lots of subfolders, like 400 - Society. Philosophy. Psychology. Religion\60 - Natural, Applied, & Social Sciences. Medicine. Geography\15. Games, Systems, and Decision Theory. I find this helpful! Every note goes into a folder that is logical and flows well.

Anyhow, you want the systems! and they will follow this post!

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Okay here’s where the real goods are:


First Classification

For a very small Library

A — Works of reference and works of a general character covering several classes

Includes such works as are usually kept in the Delivery Room or the Reading Room for the free use of the public, such as the best dictionaries of languages and other subjects ; encyclopaedias, both general and special, handbooks of dates, dictionaries of biography and peerages, gazetteers, manuals of statistics, books of quotations, concordances, etc.

B — Philosophy and Religion

Includes Moral philosophy.

E — Historical sciences

Includes Biography, History, and Geography and Travels.
(But it is better to divide History into three classes, thus :

E Biography
To be arranged in the order of the persons whose lives are told. On distinguishing between the collective and the individual works see, forward, “ The method of arranging biography.”

F History
History includes the allied subjects: Antiquities, Inscriptions, Numismatics, Chivalry and Knighthood, Heraldry, Peerage.

G Geography and Travels)

H — Social sciences

Includes Statistics, Political Economy, Commerce, the Poor, Charity, Education, Peace, Temperance, the Woman question, Politics, Government, Crime, Legislation, Law.

L — Sciences and Arts, both Useful and Fine

X — Language

Y — Literature

Includes Literary history, Bibliography, and the arts that have to do with books.

Yf — Fiction

To save time it is not unusual to omit the class-mark of the class Fiction, calling for and charging novels by the book-mark alone.


Second Classification

For a Library that has grown larger.

A — Works of reference and works of a general character covering several classes.

Includes such works as are usually kept in the Delivery Room or the Reading Room for the free use of the public.

B — Philosophy and Religion

Includes Moral philosophy

E — Biography

F — History

History includes the allied subjects : Antiquities, Inscriptions, Numismatics, Chivalry and Knighthood, Heraldry, Peerage.

F 30 Europe

In F30 will be put’the works on Europe and any of its parts (except France, England, and Germany); in F 60 works on Asia or any of its parts, and so on.

F39 France
F45 England, Great Britain
F47 Germany
F60 Asia
F70 Africa
F80 America
F83 United States

G — Geography and Travels

In G 30 will be put works on Europe or any of its parts (except, England, France, or Germany); in G 60 will be put the works on Asia or any of its parts, and so on. G will contain general geographies and maps, collections of travels, voyages round the world, and works on mathematical geography and map-making.

G30 Europe
G39 France
G45 England
G47 Germany
G60 Asia
G70 Africa
G80 America
G83 United States

H — Social sciences

Includes Statistics, Political economy, Commerce,

I — Sociology

Includes the Poor, Charity, Education, Peace, Temperance, the Woman question, Politics, Government, Crime, Legislation, Law.

L — Physical sciences

Includes Science and Arts (treated in the same book), Science (general works), Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Astronomy.

M — Natural history

Includes Microscopy, Geology, Physical geography, Meteorology, Palaeontology, Biology, Botany, Zoology, Anthropology, and Ethnology.

Q — Medicine

R — Useful arts

V — Recreative arts, Sports and games, Theatre, Music

In the broadest sense, the Fine Arts include Music, but as ordinarily used the phrase means Plastic and Graphic Fine Arts. The materials and methods of Music are entirely different from those of Architecture, Sculpture, Painting, etc., and the greater part of the works on the “ Fine Arts ” do not include music. For these reasons (2S)I think that what connection there is (which is chiefly in AEsthetics) is sufficiently recognized by putting Music directly before Fine Arts.

W — Fine arts

Includes Aesthetics ; Landscape gardening, Architecture, Sculpture, Carving, Casting, Ceramics; Drawing, Painting, Engraving, Photography; Decorative arts. Needlework, Costume, Furniture, artistic Metal-work.

X — Language

Y — Literature

Includes Literary history, Bibliography, and the arts that have to do with books.

Yf — Fiction

To save time it is not unusual to omit the class-mark of the class Fiction, calling for and charging novels by the book-mark alone.


Third Classification

A — Works of reference and works of a general character covering several classes.

Includes such works as are usually kept in the Delivery Room or the Reading Room for the free use of the public.

B — Philosophy

Br — Religion and Religions (except the Christian and Jewish)

C — Christian and Jewish religions

D — D Ecclesiastical history

E — E Biography

F — F History and subjects allied

The allied subjects are: Antiquities, Inscriptions, Numismatics, Chivalry and Knighthood, Heraldry, Peerage.

F 02 Ancient history, generally
F 03 Modern history, generally
F 04 Medieval history, generally

Use the same place divisions as in Geography and Travels (G).

G — Geography and Travels

[Long list of G items here]

H — Social sciences

Includes Statistics, Political Economy, Commerce.

I — Sociology

Includes Crime, the Poor, Charity, Providence, Education, Temperance.

J — Government, Politics

K — Legislation. Law. Woman. Societies

L — Science in general, and Physical sciences

Includes Science and Arts (treated in the same book),Science (general works), Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Astronomy.

M — M Natural history in general, Microscopy,

Geology, Biology Geology here includes Physical Geography, Meteorology, Palaeontology.

N — Botany

O — Zoology

P — Medicine

R — Useful arts in general, Metric arts, Extractive and Productive arts, Chemical and Electrical arts, Domestic economy

The general works on the Useful arts will include books on Inventions, Materials, Receipts, Tradesmarks, Industrial exhibitions, Patents. The Extractive and Productive arts are Mining and Agriculture, Horticulture, Forestry, Animaliculture (including Veterinary medicine, and Animal products). The Chemical arts include Foods and drinks, Perfumery, Dyeing, etc., Glass-making, Explosives, Illuminants, and Fuels. Domestic Economy includes Cookery.

S — Engineering and Building

Includes Sanitary and Hydraulic engineering, also Transportation (Canals, Railroads, etc.)

T — Manufactures and Handicrafts

U — Defensive and Preservative arts

Includes Art of War, Naval art, Shipbuilding, Lifesaving service, Fire-fighting, etc.

V — Recreative arts: Sports, Theatre, Music

See note in the Second Classification.

W — Fine arts

Includes AEsthetics; Landscape gardening, Architecture, Sculpture, Carving, Bronzes, Ceramics ; Drawing, Painting, Engraving, Photography ; Decorative arts, Needlework, Costume, Furniture, Metal-work.

X — Language

Y — Literature

Yf — Fiction

To save time it is not unusual to omit the class-mark of the class Fiction,’ callinoo- for and charoginOg novels by the book-mark alone.

Z — Book arts

All about books; their making (Authorship, Writing, Printing, Publishing, Bookselling), preservation (Bookcollecting, Libraries), description (Literary history and Bibliography), and reading.


Fourth Classification

Okay wow, jeeze this gets long. Here’s the 4th and then I’m gonna go take a nap.

#### **A** — Works of reference and works of a general character covering several classes 
*Includes such works as are usually kept in the Delivery Room or the Reading Room for the free use of the public.*

#### **B** — Philosophy
Bg Logic
Bm Moral philosophy, Ethics
Br Religion
Bt Religions
		Except Judaism and Christianity.

#### **C** —  Christianity and Judaism
Ca Judaism
Cb The Bible
Cc Christian theology

#### **D** —  History of the Christian Church
*Includes ecclesiastical biography (collective works only; individual biography goes always in class E).*

#### **E** —  Biography
The individual biography should be arranged in the
order of the persons whose lives are told. On distinguishing the collective biography from the single lives, see
“ Method of arranging Biography,” forward.

#### **F** —  History and allied subjects
Use the full place list. F 02 Ancient history, F 03
Modern history, F 04 Medieval history. The allied subjects are : Antiquities, Inscriptions, Numismatics, Chivalry and Knightly orders, Heraldry, Peerage.
(33)

#### **G** —  Geography and Travels
Use the full place list.

#### **H** —  Social sciences (general works)
He Political economy
Hf Laboring classes.
Includes Slavery.
Hk Commerce
Ht Taxation

#### **I** —  Sociology
Ib Crime
I k Education

#### **J** —  Government, Politics

#### **K** —  Legislation. Law. Woman. Societies

#### **L** —  Sciences and arts (general works)
L b Mathematics
L h Physics, Natural philosophy
Lo Chemistry
L r Astronomy

#### **M** —  Natural history
i. e. Mineralogy, Botany, and Zoology together.
Me Geology
Geology here includes Physical Geography,
Meteorology, and Paleontology
Mv Biology

#### **N** —  Botany

#### **O** —  Zoology, Anthropology, Ethnology

#### **Q** —  Medicine

#### **R** —  Useful arts in general
Includes works on Inventions, Materials, Receipts,
Trade-marks, Industrial exhibitions, Patents.
Rc Metric arts
Includes the measuring of time, space, weight,
and value, also the metric system.
Rd Mining-Oand MetallurgOyy
Rg Agriculture, Rural economy, Rural life
Includes Horticulture and Arboriculture.
Rj Animaliculture, Animal products, Fisheries
Includes Veterinary medicine.
Rt Chemical arts
Includes Dyeing and bleaching, manufacture of Explosives,
Foods and drinks, Glass-making, Perfumery.
Rt Electric arts
Ry Domestic economy
Rz Food and cookery

#### **S** —  Engineering and building
Sj Sanitary engineering
Sl Hydraulic engineering
Includes Water supply, Harbors, Rivers, Canals.
St Transportation in general, Roads
Sv Railroads
Sz Aerial navigation


#### **T** —  Machinery, Manufactures, and Handicrafts
#### **U** —  Art of war
Un Nautical arts
Includes Naval history, Navigation, Shipbuilding.
Uv Lighthouses
Uw Life-saving service
Ux Shipwrecks
(35)Uy Fire-fighting

#### **V** —  Recreative arts, Sports, Games, Festivals
Vs Gymnastics, Physical education
V t Theatre
Vv Music
See note under Recreative arts in the Second Classification.

#### **W** —  Fine arts
Includes AEsthetics.
W e Landscape gardening
W f Architecture.
W j Sculpture, Carving, Bronzes, Ceramics
W p Drawing, Painting, Engraving, PhotoW s Decorative art graphy
Includes Needlework, Costume, Furniture, Metalwork.

#### **X** —  English language
Xd Dictionaries
Xg Grammars
X11 Language in general
As almost all the books on language in small libraries, and a
very large part in all libraries, relate to the English language,
I have in this class made an exception to the rule that the
general precedes the particular, in order to secure the shorter
class-mark for the larger class. Any other language than English will be marked from the local list, e. g.
X 35 Italian language
X 39 French “
X46 Dutch “
X467 Flemish “
X 47 German “
This requires another exception to the rules of arrangement,
namely, that the subdivisions of English literature, Xd Dictionaries, Xg Grammars, must of course be put with the other works
on that language, and before any of the other languages, although
in general the class letter followed by a figure (as X u , X42) is
put before the class letter followed by a letter (Xd , Xg).
Of course, if any one prefers consistency of practice to economy of marks, he can use X for Language in general and X 45
for English language.

#### **Y** — English and American literature
Yd
Yf
Yj
Yp
English drama
English fiction
English juvenile literature
English poetry
To save time it is not unusual to omit the class-mark
of the class Fiction, calling for and charging novels by
the book-mark alone.
Y 11 Literature in general
For the same reason as in Language, economy of marks,
the special precedes the general- here. Other literatures
are marked as other languages are, e.g.
Y 35 Italian literature
Y 36 Latin literature
Y 40 Spanish literature
Y41 Portuguese literature
Y 54 Russian literature
Similarly
Y39F French fiction
Y 40 d Spanish drama
Y 47 p German poetry
But, as in Language, anyone who prefers can use Y for
Literature in general and Y 45 for English literature.
(37)Z Book arts
All about books; their ma k in g (Authorship, Writing,
Printing, Publishing, Bookselling), pr e s e r v a t io n (Bookcollecting, Libraries), d e s c r ipt io n (Literary history and
Bibliography), and r e a d in g .
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There is some further questions and answers about my own system in the discord: Discord

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Thanks for sharing this info! Just wanted to also briefly reply to this:

Quoting is basically transcluding in Discourse. Once you start a Topic or a Reply here, you can browse anywhere on the forum (e.g. do a search), and then highlight text to quote it into your Topic/Reply. Maybe you meant something else by “transclusion”, but this is what I took it to mean (quoted from your other topic):

Hope that’s helpful!

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of course you would know this given your Discourse wizardry! thanks :slight_smile:

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Where would you put technology?

Yes. Shove the rest of the world’s religions into 10.

He created the system in a Christian society. The others were significantly less relevant at the time… It makes sense. Obviously there would be far more Christian materials to organize in the libraries he created the system for.

And it still works. For me at least. I don’t really have a lot of pagan stuff to organize in my vault.

You devote an awful lot of mental energy toward a guy who has been dead nearly 100 years…

alright, cool opinion :+1:t2: I don’t exacly feel like we wanna get into a back and forth over a racist rapist here, so I’ll just leave that bait be

That depends on where you would put it! I put it in 400 - Society. Philosophy. Psychology. Religion\70. Computer Science. Digital Humanities. The Internet & Linked Data but if you do a lot more with technology you would want to expand out your folders a bit more!

edit:if you wanted to go with the original cutter, it’s L — Sciences and Arts, both Useful and Fine

Later it expands, so:

R — Useful arts in general, Metric arts, Extractive and Productive arts, Chemical and Electrical arts, Domestic economy
S — Engineering and Building
T — Manufactures and Handicrafts