Lists & hierarchies


Lists are a powerful tool

Our entire human civilisation is built upon a wild assortment of technologies that we take completely for granted.

For example: glass, plumbing, satellites.

And lists.

Why are lists so important?

Because they let us:

  • catalogue parts of the world
  • organise those parts into sequences, groups, and hierarchies that reveal hidden relationships
  • guide the action of other people to change the world in some way.

For example, here's a list of ingredients used to make brownies:

Flat list for Jinger Brownies from Jamie Oliver

(From Bayev's Kitchen)

Here is a list of shades of blue so that 19th century artists and scientists could have a shared frame of reference:

Table of shades of blue with names and animals vegetables and minerals that feature each colour

(From Werner's Nomenclature of Colours)

And here's a list of as many different types of animals on Earth that Carl Linnaeus could come up with:

Gigantic taxonomy of living organisms by Carl Linnaeus

(From Carl Linnaeus' Systema Naturae)

So in this lesson we're going to learn about lists.

When you're doing this lesson, you might think, "Wow, writing lists is really easy!"

You're right: writing a list is easy! Organising a list is hard!

Let's get into it.

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