I think we often take ordering systems for granted.

Where would we be with a directory that didn’t alphabetise the entries? With a reference book that had no index? With a long street lined with numberless houses? We’d have to learn another way of finding things, more random, and vastly more inefficient and time-consuming.

We need systems that provide us with patterns by which we can navigate our way through the world.

Take the estate I live in. It’s a collection of 90-some houses of different shapes, sizes and colours. It’s a lovely estate. The only problem is if you have to find a particular house for the first time.

Most streets or houses have a sequential numbering system, or maybe even on one side or odd on the other. Either way, you can find your way around without barely giving it a second thought.

On our estate the numbers are jumbled. Some parts are numbered even and odd. Some parts are even only. Some parts are odd only. Some are numbered sequentially. Then there’s a block of 4 houses which were added late into the construction phase, also numbered sequentially but with no relation to houses on either side of them.

When someone asks residents where a certain number house is, generally they don’t know. Our house doesn’t have a number on it, it has the number spelled out in letters. Because we can.

It always makes me think how much we rely on ordering systems.

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