TAXONOMY [tak-SON-uh-mee]: THE SCIENCE OR TECHNIQUE OF CLASSIFICATION

I'm a taxonomist. I was a taxonomist long before I had ever heard of the word. Many years ago - before the internet, before Craigslist, before the iPad - there was a local classified-ads newspaper called The Recycler. If you lived in Los Angeles during the 1980s, it was the first place you turned to look for an apartment, or a car, or adopt a pet, or even to find a bass player for your band. My first real job right out of high school was at The Recycler. I was hired to answer phones (wired phones! dial phones!) where people called in to dictate their classified ads, which I then typed into an amber-screen terminal connected to a Data General mainframe. I then had to categorize the ads in their proper place using three-letter codes for categories, and I caught on to this categorization scheme in no time at all. My entry-level job lasted only a matter of weeks before I was promoted to proofreader - which meant that in addition to checking for spelling, grammar, and editorial and legal compliance, my job was to ensure that everything I saw was correctly categorized. I was using a taxonomy for classification, but I didn't know it at the time - all I knew was that I found it entirely logical and immensely satisfying to put things where they belong. I haven't stopped since.