This week is going to prove to be an extremely busy one, between schoolwork, work, hosting my Ulysses group meeting at my house (I’m making vegan potato soup and offering Guinness, of course) and giving a lecture at Drexel. So busy in fact that I don’t really have time to think about it being the feast day of St. Hallmark. That is a good thing. But oddly the subject comes up in the strangest of places, like my course reading.
To give an example outside of cataloging, imagine trying to model something like love. Love is an abstraction, but it is something we all know and recognize. Exactly how do we do that? To make a model of love that can be used in research or in some other kind of rationalized practice or process, we operationalize it. Operationalizing makes it possible to observe, count, or verify something such as love. However, operationalizing something very abstract, such as love, is not only difficult, it can cross the line into the comical. For instance, because we cannot see love,we have to identify things that are observable to indicate the presence or existence of love. Thus, one could operationalize the presence of love between two people by counting the number of times they kiss each other and the amount of time they spend with each other, or observing whether they live together, and so on. Doubtless, these actions are easy enough to verify, but no matter how many of them we come up with, any model of love gives a rather sorry representation of the real thing.
Here’s sending a wish to all of you lovers out there for the unquantifiable Real Thing.