Taxonomies 2


Panelists talk about auto-classification
Automatic Classification: A Panel Discussion FUMSI (Jan 2009) — “Karen Loasby discusses automatic classification with freelance information architect Helen Lippell and BBC information architect Silver Oliver.”Panelists covered a lot of ground in this discussion: types of auto classification systems (2), problems the English language present, taxonomies and folksonomies, and situations in which auto-classification is suitable and when not.

“Taxonomies can be the glue of an automatic classification implementation. They are the vocabulary that rules, whether Boolean or statistical, are built upon, allowing concepts to be applied consistently to content. Taxonomies also provide the framework of relationships, such as synonyms and related terms between concepts – they help the automatic system to understand the domain in the way that users do.”

Taxonomies are not a quick fix

Taxonomy: Silver Bullet or Shallow Puddle by Stephen Arnold, Beyond Search (Sept 2008)You can count on Stephen Arnold to not pull punches. Everybody is talking about taxonomy as the ultimate solution to information retrieval. But do they appreciate how difficult it is to do well?

Arnold answers his question – “Why are taxonomies perceived as the silver bullet that will kill the vampire search or CMS system” – with five points that mainly show that people think taxonomies are a) a quick fix, and b) easy to create especially with the aid of software. Neither is true.


Explaining Taxonomies

Waffles and Taxonomies by Rich Payne, AIIM Infonomics MagazineRich Payne orients readers to the concepts of taxonomy through an analogy with food orders at a Waffle House. The example works – somewhat.

I’m not sure he made the point about eggs completely clear. Let’s imagine the Waffle House needs to sales records and other information about the product line. It would see that different kinds of eggs are big business for them. To help people find the information about eggs, they might set up a “taxonomy” for eggs with sub-types of scrambled, fried, poached, boiled. This resembles a thesaurus, where the scrambled, boiled etc are the Narrow Terms.

Two basic rules are interesting:

  • Users must understand the “product of taxonomy”
  • Almost everything has a relationship or is part of a hierarchy

Taxonomy Starter

Creating User Centred Taxonomies: Part One by James Kelway, FUMSI (Aug 2008)”This two-part article is a step-by-step guide for those wishing to create new taxonomies for their business unit, or client. It will outline the many different elements that make up a quality taxonomy and the pitfalls you should be aware of when starting a new project.”

Creating User-Centred Taxonomies: Part Two (Sept 2008)

“In part two of this article, we look at creating, testing and launching the taxonomy.”

Both are excellent summaries and are well illustrated.

 Taxonomy Boot Camp 2008
Full conference details for Taxonomy Boot Camp 2008 are available at the website.Organizing Information for Search & Discovery
September 25-26, 2008
San Jose McEnery Convention Center – San Jose, CA

Keynote speakers are:

  • Peter Morville, President, Semantic Studios, and author, Ambient Findability
  • Leslie Owens, Analyst, Forrester
 Taxonomy for enterprise metadata
Free Taxonomy & Folksonomy Book Posted by Oliver Marks in ZDnet (July 23)Points us to a great new book by Daniela Barbosa of Synaptica at Dow Jones Client Solutions, ‘The Taxonomy Folksonomy Cookbook: Finding the right recipe for organizing enterprise metadata‘. She samples “the different flavors of how enterprises can incorporate social tagging into their taxonomies”.

The objective is to get the best of the discipline of the prepared taxonomy and the involvement of social taggers in building knowledge and enhancing findability.

“Fortunately, the taxonomy versus folksonomy issue is not an “either/or” debate, but an opportunity for mutual progress. By combining the virtues of each approach into a working hybrid model, the enterprise can achieve its goal: a user-friendly system that encourages collaboration and makes information easier to find.”

Has many “recipes”.

The e-book is online and free with registration.

 Types of Taxonomies
Taxonomy Design Types by
Barbara Blackburn, AIIM (May 31, 2006)Good introductory article on types of taxonomies with examples.

“Taxonomies are usually hierarchical. Categories (nodes) in the hierarchy progress from general to specific. Each subsequent node is a subset of the higher level node. There are three basic types of hierarchical taxonomies: subject, business-unit, and functional.”

Primer on Taxonomies
Better Living Through Taxonomies by Heather Hedden, Digital Life Magazine (Feb 5, 2008)Heather Hedden tackles the matter of improving navigation at a web site through the use of a well planned taxonomy. This article is an excellent primer to the design and use of taxonomies – what they look like, how to create them, and how they benefit the searcher. Concludes with a list of resources.

“Large websites and intranets can benefit from improved methods of search and navigation. These include site maps, A-Z indexes, sophisticated search engines, and generally improved navigational design—and playing a potential role in all of these methods is well-planned taxonomy.”

Thanks to Patrick Lambe of Organising Knowledge for this lead.

Negative for taxonomies
Enterprise Search: Leveraging and Learning From Web Search and Content Tools Lynda Moulton, Gilbane Enterprise Search Practice(Dec 14 2007)Lynda Moulton asked panelists at the Gilbane Boston 2007 Conference, “Will Web and Internet Search Technologies Drive the Enterprise (Internal) Search Tool Offerings or Will the Markets Diverge?” She noted their comments in this blog entry.

Of interest: “Among the other noteworthy comments in this session was a negative about taxonomies. The gist of it was that they require so much discipline that they might work for a while but can’t really be sustained. If this attitude becomes the norm, many of the semantic search engines which depend on some type of classification and categorization according to industry terminologies or locally maintained lists will be challenged to deliver enhanced search results. …”

Taxonomy in E-commerce

Shopping is one area on the Web where we see taxonomies deployed to assist users in product searches. This posting onShopzilla Gets Organized compares Shopzilla to Pricegrabber, Yahoo Shopping, and and shows the variety of approaches. Brian Smith at clearly prefers the detailed categorization at Shopzilla.Certainly he thinks that a strong taxonomy is good for the searcher and for the merchant.

“Starting with the big, bold pictures representing the categories and then moving down into cleaner/more robust filtering options and a more granular taxonomy, shoppers should be finding products easier (which makes for a better shopping experience) and merchants should be getting more relevant clicks (which improves ROI).”

Follow the screenshots on a search for football or the links for a search on ‘home organization’ to see the different treatments.

Posted by Gwen Harris at 8:07 PM 0 comments


Blog and Book about Organizing Knowledge

People working with knowledge management, taxonomies, and folksonomies will be interested in Patrick Lambe’s new book (February 2007) Organising Knowledge. Some excerpts and comments are provided on Lambe’s page about the book.He explained, “Hence, as far as I know, this is also the first taxonomy book that combines a practical guide to taxonomy development with a broader explanation of how taxonomy work contributes to knowledge management in a variety of ways.”

His weblog, Green Chameleon, has several categories related to knowledge management and to taxonomy which provide various insights. This one on Folksonomies and Rich Serendipity argues for the value of people as “knowledge aggregators”. This is a very thoughtful piece that was later included in Lambe’s book.

Patrick Lambe is a principal with Straits Knowledge, a consulting firm for information and knowledge management based in Singapore.


Taxonomies and enhanced search

Two excellent articles by Penny Crosman in Intelligent Enterprise on the use of taxonomies to enhance search.

Search in Focus: Implementing a Taxonomy (Dec 2006)

” Search engines don’t know the difference between reading glasses and drinking glasses, but a taxonomy puts your query in context. We outline several ways to build taxonomies, ranging from the tough but potentially more accurate approach of building from scratch to the easier but potentially compromised approach of buying a prebuilt taxonomy or using automated clustering software. ”

Select from

The Perfect Search (March 2006)

“Google-style search is all right for some, but an enterprise search demands a mix of technologies and techniques that lead to better accuracy.”

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Intelligence documentation

New intelligence for Documentum CIS, KMWorld (Mar 13, 2006)”Intellisophic reports it has integrated its pre-built taxonomies withEMC Documentum Content Intelligence Services (CIS). The move gives Documentum CIS customers access to Intellisophic taxonomies covering a variety of specific industries including: automotive, chemicals, defense, energy, finance, high-tech, information sciences, legal, life sciences, military and others.”







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