“Under these different theoretical regimens, questions were asked that were almost always the same but were given each time a different solution: the possibility of classifying living beings – some like, Linnaeus, holding that all of nature can be accommodated within a taxonomy, others like Buffon, holding that it is too rich and various to be fitted within so rigid a framework” (Foucault 137). This quote seemed particularly relevant to visualization and the use of digital tools in that when using different programs we are often asked to create categories and classification systems in order for the program to function properly. Even creating the CSV file for my project, I found myself creating somewhat artificial categories for the data. What happens to the data when we create systems of classification? Is there a sense in which the categories do not always fit? Foucault summarizes the tension between what can be classified and the unclassifiable rather well. I also wonder what is the meaning behind choosing specific categories? Another work that forms an interesting counterpoint to Foucault, is “Naming and Knowing: The Global Politics of 18th-century Botanical Nomenclature” by Londa Scheibinger. Scheibinger asks not only what is at stake when one classifies something, but also when one names something. She also argues that the act of naming and classification is meaningful and highly political. For example, one issue I am dealing with in my project is when to call someone an author or a publisher. In the sixteenth century this division was not always so clear. What are ways that we can classify our data and still stay true to the material?

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