Carl Linnaus set forth in Systema Naturae (1735) three kingdoms, divided into classes, orders, families, genera, and species. Over time these were modified, and today cladistics is the most popular method for constructing phylogenies, not only from morphological data, but also from molecular. In the 1990s, the development of polymerase chain reaction suggested including more classifiable traits. Though computers made possible the searching and sorting of huge stores of data, cladistics is still the dominant method of phylogenetic classification in evolutionary biology.
Linnaeus also placed plants into 23 classes based roughly on their sexual organs; his taxonomy of minerals included 4 classes: petrae, minerae, fossilia, and vitamentra. While much of his first taxonomy survives, the latter two classifications have been relegated to history.
A distinctive feature of all living organisms is communication. Even plants communicate extracorporeally. I will here suggest a Linnaean taxonomy of communication; and for lack of a better name, call it Taxonomy of the MetaMind; I will argue that the advent of the net, www// and the browser made inevitable a new set of taxonomic features, derived of the natural history of communication.
For humans that taxonomic history begins with pictographs, and incrementally adds words, language, writing, books, printing, publishing—on and on— and now such refinements as those called email, browsing, self-publishing, fishing, hacking, NSA style surveillance, and live systems called Facebook, blogging, tweeting etc.
The problem now is that the information boiling in the sometimes befouled pot of facts and factoids makes it nearly impossible for any individual, alone, to search, assess, ingest and digest that whole e.stew.
Yet here Darwin raises his voice to claim that natural selection operates. He observes that small self selected groups of people have started to organize, with confidence that each will search, select with care, and share with respect. Elitist, or Aristotelian, Charles? Perhaps; but a closed and close association allows 50 or so like minded minds to communicate, almost live, and instantly, across the globe. The most vital feature of such a group is subjectivity within a voluntary, free and ideal association. No objective search program can bring to bear such a collection of selective subjective human judgments. No blog or e.magazine that lives on its volume of subscribers can, either.
I suggest that the aggregation of these selected and interconnected minds is a recent natural progression in the Taxonomy of the MetaMind. Space is limiting; but here are a couple of examples, courtesy of my daughter, who lives in the blogosphere, and is a member of several such groups.
1) A writer started a group composed of women authors who know– or know of–one another. Like cortex and cerebellum they may never have met, but they are interconnected. Granted, their group name is astutely based on the famous gaff of a WKWM (Well Known White Man) about women; but within days the it was oversubscribed, and remains a living example of metacorporeal interconnections. Others groups are sure to appear, though Darwin points out that only the fittest last.
2) pull up this subreddit:
It is # 23 on a list of anonymous comments at http://www.reddit.com/r/talesfrommedicine/
Now open the associated reddit, http://www.reddit.com/r/talesfrommedicine/ Scroll quickly through the other posts; I think you will agree that the med student subreddit, while comparatively long, is unique. How does anyone find such a morsel in the limitless net.stew without help from like minded colleagues? It’s almost impossible. Yet it happens often among a selected set of shared searches and finds typical of the newest addition to the Taxonomy of the MetaMind. There will be more.