In which I extol the virtues of creating a set of categories for Bible marking, and only later reveal that I haven't actually arrived at a set that I'm happy with.
Last week I shared a post with the mildly entertaining title Rainbow Bible. This seemed like a succinct way to describe what happens to a Bible after a few years of note taking.
Which makes it all the more important that there should be a method behind the madness. A colour scheme to distinguish different types of notes; a Bible marking taxonomy!
Why you secretly love a good taxonomy
There are two good reasons to put things into categories. First, it helps you find them again later. If you're buying a car, then a good taxonomy to help find the car you want might be a hierarchy of makes, models, and engines.
Combining a taxonomy with a colour scheme is particularly useful for data that can't be re-ordered (like notes on the pages of your Bible). It's much easier to find your vehicle on a car poster if you know for example, that all Fords are highlighted blue.
Second, a taxonomy helps you spot themes and trends; particularly useful to a Bible student trying to understand the context of a verse or passage.
Check out this example of a taxonomy combined with an colour scheme, used to give an at-a-glance view of iPad apps [credit: learnwithleah.com].
5 reasons that a taxonomy might be rubbish
I once asked a Senior Youth Group class to come up with a colour scheme for Bible marking -- just the "top level" categories. A lot of their categories suffered from problems that only become evident in the hindsight of a rainbow Bible.
Quantity - Too many categories means too many colours. Also, if you still expect to have that mauve pencil in a year's time then you're more organised than I am.
Scope - Narrow categories means that you'll hardly have anything in orange on "Things Adam said". Conversely, if a category is too wide then everything will fall into the category of "Scripture".
Overlap - Almost unavoidable, but you need a way to resolve overlap. Something could easily be a "Cross reference" and "Life lesson". Using a priority on colour scheme can help fix this.
Fuzz - Subtly different from overlap, some categories just aren't clear. "Learning" for example. Does that mean something you learned, or something a character learned? Did you mean the lesson itself, or how they were taught it?
Skew - When your category will be particularly unevenly distributed across your Bible. A category "Paul's themes" for example, is unlikely to get much use in the Old Testament.
Unfortunately my personal marking scheme is also rubbish:
I kept it simple because I'm always going to have access to a red, yellow, green or blue pencil. I'm also a bear of very little brain, so only four categories gives me a decent chance of remembering what the categories are without resorting to the key.
But there's a good deal of overlap, and I think my categories are too wide. On the bright side, I find these categories are useful all the way through my Bible.