July 08, 2002
Classifying Bloggers

A week or two ago, N. Z. Bear asked for suggestions on improving the classification system of his Blogosphere Ecosystem, particularly by inserting new levels matching the established theme or expanding the size of existing categories. I sent him an e-mail, but have since had further thoughts that may be of interest to my readers. Since he's unlikely to adopt all of my suggestions, why not publish them here?

First of all, the topmost categories could certainly stand to be expanded a bit, to for instance twelve bloggers each instead of ten. (Please note that doing so would not bump me up a category: this suggestion is not at all self-serving.) Further advantages to using twelve instead of ten will appear below.

Here's my suggestion, with the new categories in red. Subdivide Higher Beings into three new categories:

Olympian Gods [twelve would be the right number here]
Minor Deities
Nymphs and Satyrs

Subdivide Mortal Humans into three new categories:

Kings Among Men
Solid Citizens
Mere Peasants
(but at least they're human)

Interleave four new animal categories with the old ones:

Large Mammals
Adorable Little Rodents
Flappy Birds
Slithering Reptiles

Crawly Amphibians
Slimy Molluscs

Lowly Insects
Crunchy Crustaceans
Wiggly Worms

Insignificant Microbes (bottom o' the food chain)

Possible variations and complications:

  1. More categories could be added at the bottom, continuing on into the Vegetable Kingdom (that's the real "bottom o' the food chain" -- except for Venus Flytraps, I guess) and perhaps even inanimate objects.
  2. If even more categories are needed, Solid Citizens could be divided into Pompous Patricians and Petulant Plebeians.
  3. Another possibility would be to insert Great Apes or Proud Primates between the humans and the mammals. The problem is that apes are mammals and humans are primates. Then again, humans are already large mammals, so maybe that's not so bad. (Though zoologically accurate, a separate category of Baboons between the Great Apes and the rest of the mammals probably wouldn't go over very well.)
  4. It's hard to say whether Slimy Molluscs should be inserted above the Insects (because they're mostly bigger) or below them (because they're more primitive -- they don't have eyes, or faces, or legs).

As for the right-hand column of the chart, expanding the top category to twelve members (no pun intended) would allow it to be called The Dirty Dozen: Ultimate Link Sluts. A second category of Penultimate Link Sluts could also be inserted (no pun intended) below. That might confuse some readers, though, those who think 'penultimate' is a fancy term for 'even better than ultimate' when it really means 'next best thing to ultimate'. (I tried to stay away from blatant pedantry for a whole post, really I did!) But coming up with further categories for the right-hand column is not as easy or fun as for the left, so I'll let the Bear handle it.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at July 08, 2002 09:08 PM

I for one would like to be locked into the slime-mold category in perpetuity.

Posted by: PBR on July 10, 2002 02:56 AM

Actually, some mollusks do have eyes (Scallops, for example, as well as predators such as conchs and moon shells. And of course, terrestrial snails (such as one would find in a garden) have eyes.

While they don't have legs, they do have feet, with which they either slither along or dig into the sand.

Posted by: timekeeper on July 10, 2002 04:11 PM

Let's not be forgetting that the mollusks include the cephalopods, like squids and octopuses. They've got eyes, lots of feet, and brains. They're not lower animals.

"George Bernard Shaw famously once remarked that to say 'octopi' displayed an ignorance of three languages: Latin because 'octopus' is not Latin, Greek because the plural of 'oktopous' should be 'oktopodes', and English because the English is 'octopuses'."

Posted by: Bill Woods on July 10, 2002 07:30 PM

Thanks for the reminder. I'd forgotten about the squids and octopuses. Whether a clam's "foot" really counts as the equivalent of a land animal's foot seems arguable: it could just as easily be thought of as a tongue or elbow or something.

Of course, the appendages of squids and octopuses are called 'arms' in some languages, including English, 'legs' in others, including Greek ('octopus' : 'tripod' :: 8 : 3). Some years ago, an American deodorant company did a television ad featuring an octopus spraying their product under all eight of his arms, the point being that an octopus would need to worry more about hygiene than puny two-armed creatures. (Take a whiff at the fish store: they do.) As I recall, the ad went over very badly in Japan, where octopuses have legs.

Posted by: Dr. Weevil on July 10, 2002 07:54 PM

I'll volunteer for the microbe category. With no microbes in this ol' world, we wouldn't have wine or cheese. No beer or aged beef! No fluffy leavened bread! No enzymes for cleaning clothes, making paper, leather tanning.

Without microbes no nitrogen fixing in the soil! Some microbes break down oil and and some sources say that photosynthetic algae and bacteria produce half the oxygen in our atmosphere. And I won't even get into all that bacteria-fungi-protozoan action in the rumen of cattle that allow them to chew their cud (i.e.,break down cellulose and allow the stomachs to digest grass).

If you have "MD" after your name, microbes give you a reason to kick start that Jag in the morning. A life without microbes heralds not only the fall of civilization but life as we know it on this planet.

And fun! You haven't lived until you've had to room with a barrel full of drunk Porifera for a weekend. (mebbe it's the flagella)

Had enough? (Oh, yes, please. Ah'll take one of those "Microbes are yore frens" t-shirts, thank yew.)

Posted by: Quana on July 10, 2002 11:08 PM

Jeez, first Quana tells me all about flagellation, assuring me that it is the English vice, and now she's talking about flagella (Latin for 'whips'). I'm beginning to worry about her.

By the way, I ran across one more bit of evidence for the English vice, an ad for the Drew Carey Show in which veddy English Mr. Wick says "I'm here to see the disciplinarian. I've been a very naughty boy." Case closed?

Posted by: Dr. Weevil on July 10, 2002 11:50 PM

I aspire to be a chewy booger myself.

Posted by: Dean Esmay on July 13, 2002 06:35 AM

Do Octopus have eyes? yes or no

Posted by: Amanda on February 17, 2004 05:35 PM