Check it out. Find your own silly correlations! U.S. Web Search activity for “panda research” and “chase rewards” correlate pretty well. Chase would be well advised to support panda research apparently.
The musculature of the Library of Congress categorization scheme looks like it’s about concepts. It is organized into non-overlapping categories that get more detailed at lower and lower levels — any concept is supposed to fit in one category and in no other categories. But every now and again, the skeleton pokes through, and the skeleton, the supporting structure around which the system is really built, is designed to minimize seek time on shelves.
The essence of a book isn’t the ideas it contains. The essence of a book is “book.” Thinking that library catalogs exist to organize concepts confuses the container for the thing contained.
The categorization scheme is a response to physical constraints on storage, and to people’s inability to keep the location of more than a few hundred things in their mind at once. Once you own more than a few hundred books, you have to organize them somehow. (My mother, who was a reference librarian, said she wanted to reshelve the entire University library by color, because students would come in and say “I’m looking for a sociology book. It’s green…”) But however you do it, the frailty of human memory and the physical fact of books make some sort of organizational scheme a requirement, and hierarchy is a good way to manage physical objects.
The “Balkans/Asia” kind of imbalance is simply a byproduct of physical constraints. It isn’t the ideas in a book that have to be in one place — a book can be about several things at once. It is the book itself, the physical fact of the bound object, that has to be one place, and if it’s one place, it can’t also be in another place. And this in turn means that a book has to be declared to be about some main thing. A book which is equally about two things breaks the ‘be in one place’ requirement, so each book needs to be declared to about one thing more than others, regardless of its actual contents.
People have been freaking out about the virtuality of data for decades, and you’d think we’d have internalized the obvious truth: there is no shelf. In the digital world, there is no physical constraint that’s forcing this kind of organization on us any longer. We can do without it, and you’d think we’d have learned that lesson by now.