Tax Me
January 19, 2012 11:57 AM   Subscribe

Where can I find taxonomies of the everything?

When I was young, an encyclopedia had a taxonomy of essentially everything in a hierarchical form and discussed how inherently difficult it was to create it to organize the encyclopedia.

Instead of a tree, it might actually be a graph (for those familiar with the concept in computer science).

A taxonomy of known species is reasonably well documented but I'm wondering where I can find taxonomies of simply everything including species. The social world, health/medicine, etc, all the categories in the MeFi 'categories' and beyond.

Essentially one big hierarchical tree (or graph).

Why? Oh, just for fun.
posted by simpleton to Science & Nature (15 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
Wikipedia has a category called Fundamental Categories and another one called Main topic classifications.

The Dewey Decimal Classification is a much older one.
posted by XMLicious at 12:10 PM on January 19, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks for the wikipedia link. I looked under Contents before but your links look pretty good.

Yes, it would be great to have everything....

How many bytes of data would that be just for the hierarchy? Of course the actual content would be significantly higher.

All the bacteria, all of Shakespeare's work....types of stars and all the named stars (not every star even if we could name them all since that would be too many).

It can't be that huge. I'm guessing 500 Gigs of data purely based on intuition. Anybody want to venture a better guess?
posted by simpleton at 12:21 PM on January 19, 2012

You may also be particularly interested in their Ontology Development Pitfalls page.
posted by jedicus at 12:33 PM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Here's a taxonomy for animals - you may be able to generalise it to other objects.
posted by zamboni at 12:39 PM on January 19, 2012

Brittanica's Propaedia.
posted by Wordwoman at 1:12 PM on January 19, 2012

Here's the rest of zamboni's taxonomy, which includes a couple additional taxonomies of everything and more on "how inherently difficult" they are "to create & organize."
posted by ecmendenhall at 1:49 PM on January 19, 2012

Not a single chart, but The Order of Things does that for me. At the top is its table of contents. At the bottom, well, every Pope ever in order and so on.
posted by Gucky at 2:07 PM on January 19, 2012

Taxonomy follows classification. Classification follows the establishment of a collection. Collections need collectors. Collectors can, and often do, go too far.

A taxonomy of everything is a hoard:
The noisy world had been replaced by the noise of the hoard: a collection so impossible to conceive, to cleave, to order, that it had dissolved once more to pure, featureless kipple.
posted by 0bvious at 3:12 PM on January 19, 2012

Response by poster: Nice responses. Thanks, I'll look into all of them.
posted by simpleton at 4:42 PM on January 19, 2012

Roget's original thesaurus had words organized by category (not the newer ones, pick one up at a used book store.)
posted by Brent Parker at 5:58 PM on January 19, 2012

posted by gwint at 6:47 PM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

You can try to dig up a copy of John Wilkins's book An Essay Towards a Real Character and a Philosophical Language, topic of J. L. Borges's short piece The Analytical Language of John Wilkins (which I think you will find interesting). It also makes reference to the ...
... certain Chinese encyclopaedia entitled 'Celestial Empire of Benevolent Knowledge'. In its remote pages it is written that the animals are divided into: (a) belonging to the emperor, (b) embalmed, (c) tame, (d) sucking pigs, (e) sirens, (f) fabulous, (g) stray dogs, (h) included in the present classification, (i) frenzied, (j) innumerable, (k) drawn with a very fine camelhair brush, (l) et cetera, (m) having just broken the water pitcher, (n) that from a long way off look like flies.
posted by mbrock at 3:27 AM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Here is a taxonomy of philosophy. Created for the purpose of categorizing articles on
posted by ollyollyoxenfree at 12:25 AM on February 2, 2012

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