So I’ve just united the DVDs I previously had in boxes, with the DVDs I had out on shelves, to make my collection whole again. This always results in me re-thinking the taxonomic principles of classification that I’m using. Prior to this particular re-ordering, I have used genre, director, actor, and even year of release to order my DVDs on the shelf. This time I went for the simple alphabetic approach. A cop out, you say? That may be true, but it’s not as trivial as it seems.
For example, in what order would you place “Bad Boys 2” and “Badlands”? For this you’d need to decide on the particular lexicographical ordering you want to use. There are three options:
- Remove spaces between words for the purposes of ordering. This would give us "BadBoys2" and "Badlands", and assuming we're not using case-sensitive ordering, "BadBoys2" would come first on the shelf.
- Consider a space as a character that is ordered before numbers and letters.
- Consider a space as a character that is ordered after numbers and letters.
In the end I went with option 2, and if the film title contained a hyphen, I treated that as a character that came after a space, but before numbers and letters.
I also discount “a”, “an” and “the” for the purposes of ordering.
For completeness, I should say that I order numbers before letters. But there are exceptions - for example, I own both “The Fast and the Furious”, and its sequel “2 Fast 2 Furious”. This raises a problem - if I ordered it properly, the sequel would appear very near the start of my DVD collection, but logically, I would prefer it to be right after “The Fast and the Furious”. Therefore, I have allowed sequels to follow their predecessor films, regardless of any change in title.
If you made it to the end of this entry - congratulations, you’re probably about as pedantic as I am.