"Hierarchies, of themselves, are not evil, in fact, they're essential. When you have to have open-heart surgery, wouldn't you like to have the best surgeon, at the best hospital? Sure you would. Too bad you can't afford it. But let's not digress. There are many hierarchies. When I show my ID and drive through the gate at work, I get a salute and a cheerful, "Good morning, sir." Doc would not get the salute. So I got that going for me!"
I agree to that a system for categorisation or ranking of usefulness is fine and... eh, useful.
But a hierarchy is more:
- A tree structure to organise data / resources
- A categorisation / ranking system
- (In organisations) A conduit for work orders / sequence (by command and control)
Lucky enough there are other methods for ranking usefulness of data and resources (reviews at amazon for example).
Ranking as in command and control requires a combination of 2. with 3. above, and as far as I can see is not what Dave had in mind in above quote.
Organising data has alternatives (tags say).
Sequence or flow has alternatives to the classic command and control (assembly line could be mentioned).
And with that we have not even started being serious about finding alternatives.
Thus, I, in all humility of course, do disagree with the postulate that hierarchies are needed.
In fact, I would say that the postulate holds us back from exploring potential alternatives, and that is a tad counterproductive, is it not?