The Power of Enumeration

04 Apr 2014

Come on, let's face it: marketing manuals are often boring. Not all of them, let's say the most. Who knows why, maybe it's because they are chock full of lists, directories, enumerations ... 

In fact marketing textbooks have lists for everything: the 4 rules for determining fair price, the 10 commandments of the perfect sales manager, the 7 market segments according to Tom and Dick, the 13 questions most frequently asked by marketers. Think about it... Marketing experts tend to think that explaining something is to some extent equivalent to enumerate its constituent elements: tell me what parts you're made of, and I'll tell you who you are. 

Might be, but we're not convinced, because rarely a simple list, by itself, is able to be really persuasive as any true explanation should be.

That said, we must also admit that as semantic engineers we are in line with this approach. As a matter of fact, to define taxonomic classes - which is one of our most important tasks - we have two main methodologies: the first one - let's call it 'deductive' - is to define the abstract properties of classes regardless of the number and identity of their members. The second, the 'inductive' one, defines classes by listing one by one all of its members. Once you've listed all members... voila!... the class is ready-described. Technically speaking a class defined in this way is called an 'enumerated class'.


Lists are boring, that's it, but they are one of the most powerful tools we've got to describe things. Be careful, therefore, not to underestimate the profound wisdom of marketing managers!