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Preview: Taxonomy Watch

Taxonomy Watch

A weblog about taxonomies and their application in organizing digital content. Also includes related topics such as controlled vocabulary, thesauri, topic maps, ontologies and semantic technologies.

Last Build Date: Wed, 08 Feb 2017 04:51:27 +0000


Last Post

Thu, 08 Nov 2012 05:35:00 +0000

This blog was a companion piece to The Taxonomy Guide, and e-publication of the iSchool Institute at the University of Toronto. That resource has been withdrawn and there is no further reason to keep up this blog.  As well, my involvement with taxonomies has weakened. There are much better people blogging, writing and presenting on this topic.

Three that come immediatlely to mind are:
  • Earley & Associates
  • Heather Hedden and her book, The Accidental Taxonomist
  • SLA Taxonomy Division
I'll completely remove this blog in another two or three months.

Best, Gwen

Sun, 26 Aug 2012 18:51:00 +0000

Seth Earley has been speaking and writing about Taxonomies for several years. On this occasion he gives readers a view of change over the past six years. The 5 major changes he has identified are:

  1. Taxonomies have been demystified 
  2. Technology has caught up (to some degree) 
  3. Taxonomy has left the library 
  4. Enterprises have integrated taxonomy 
  5. Mobile and social have taken off 

Taxonomy Boot Camp - A Maturing of the Industry (Aug 20)

What can go wrong with a taxnomy

Tue, 24 Jul 2012 18:18:00 +0000

Seth Earley lays out the 10 Common Mistakes When Developing a Taxonomy (July 23) There is a very important distinction between navigation and taxonomy. They aren't the same although a meaningful taxonomy can assist in navigating through content.

Taxonomy Governance

Tue, 24 Jul 2012 03:49:00 +0000

Three part series on taxonomy governance by Mike Doane at CMSWire. Covers development, maintenance, and growth. Has good checklists.

Taxonomies and TOCs

Tue, 17 Jul 2012 14:10:00 +0000

Tom Johnson boiled down 200+ slides from a Seth Earley workshop on taxonomies to one very readable summary.
"Seth outlined a three-prong approach to information management:
  • Develop a taxonomy.
  • Apply the taxonomy to your content.
  • Leverage the taxonomy to view your content in different ways."

The workshop fitted in all the parts: taxonomy, folksonomy, inforamtion architecture, metadata, facets. A writer, Johnson noted  the likeness of taxonomy to table of contents:

"That said, although organizing a TOC and building out a taxonomy seem similar, wouldn’t it be much easier to build out the TOC if you already had a taxonomy to refer to? The taxonomy should provide the heavy critical thought already, making the TOC somewhat of a derivative exercise." 

Comments to the post lead to more observations and resources.

Taxonomy, Metadata, and Search: Notes from Seth Earley’s Confab Workshop by Tom Johnson, (June 25)

Business Value of a Taxonomy

Tue, 05 Jun 2012 20:49:00 +0000

Early and Associates is running a free webinar on What is the Business Value of Taxonomy? (Aug 2012)

 "How can taxonomy impact the bottom line of your organization? What are the advantages of taxonomy vs. technology solutions for improving knowledge flow? Join us for a sixty-minute rundown of the theory, practice and business benefits of taxonomy. "

Introduction to Semantic Web

Fri, 01 Jun 2012 18:41:00 +0000

Giving meaning to the Semantic Web by Dan Misener, Globe and Mail (May 31) Wonderfully succinct statement about the semantic web: "The bottom line: The Semantic Web means many things to many people, and therein lies the irony. It's an online movement focused on adding meaning, but its own meaning is far from clear." This is a good introduction to "semantic web" of structure and connections. We may never see it in full force as a personal information agent, but the technology supports some services on the web today. "For example, Google recently announced Knowledge Graph, an effort to improve search results by applying semantics. Mr. Giasson points to both Wolfram Alpha and Apple's Siri as well-known services that use semantic approaches."

Sat, 05 May 2012 18:21:00 +0000

If you're working in taxonomies you'll want to join SLA and its Taxonomy Division. It has a new website at with blog and resources - faq, standards, events, presentations. Some materials are open for viewing, and others are for members. Heather Hedden, a leading author about taxonomies, contributes to this site and the SLA community.

An Introduction to the concepts

Sat, 14 Apr 2012 08:30:00 +0000

An Intro to Metadata and Taxonomies by Christine Benson, Brain Traffic (March 29)

Clear, simple definitions of metadata and taxonomy and how the two relate to each other. Good list of references.

Excellent primer on organizing information

Sat, 17 Mar 2012 01:05:00 +0000

Organizing digital information for others from Maisch Nichani at Pebble Road (Feb 23)

This looks interesting - an e-book on organizing information - download or read online. It's somewhat addressed to a web or intranet team, but anyone organizing information for others will get value.

"In this short book, we explore how lists, categories, trees and facets can be better used to organize information for others. We also learn how metadata and taxonomies can connect different collections and increase the findability of information across the website or intranet."

It starts off very well with a concept map of the concepts covered in the book. It explains the concepts simply and gives practical advice and illustrations.

For example, "the first principle of making lists is - all terms used in the list should pass the common knowledge test". It's fun to read, and recommends many excellent resources. Length - 54 pages and closes with a check list.

Very much ecommended. Enjoy.

Taxonomies - relationships

Wed, 14 Mar 2012 17:45:00 +0000

KMWorld's Enterprise Search Newsletter for March 14, 2012, has a very concise explanation of taxonomies with illustrations - a perfect, quick introduction.

Also note the item about concept searching - also pertinent to management of information assets and governance.

Information Architecture in Prezi

Fri, 09 Mar 2012 00:09:00 +0000

Watch a cool presentation on Information Architecture by Mr Findability himself, Peter Morville, that he created using the new Prezi -"powerpoint on steriods" web application.

View from the top

Wed, 07 Mar 2012 17:06:00 +0000

FreePint's new categories developed for easier access to articles in VIP and FUMSI on information tools and strategies provide an excellent definition and introduction to this space. Content managemnent, taxonomy, intranet are only three.

From Big Data Discovery, by Michelle Manafy, Freepint (March 2012)

"It is with this in mind that here at FreePint we are introducing a range of discovery tools to improve our users' ability to determine quickly which information resources are likely to be of value to meet individual needs. First among these is the introduction of FreePint Categories, which provide both solution-oriented (Industry Topics) and job-related (Functional Areas) categorisation. These categories will also be visible with abstracts of articles, to help users more quickly skim and find content worth clicking through and reading (or sharing with staff). These categories draw content from across the entire FreePint family of resources and each category has its own RSS feed so that users can create more targeted content alerts."

Stephanie Lemieux's Favourite Tipples

Wed, 07 Mar 2012 16:29:00 +0000

Taxonomy and content management consultant Stephanie Lemieux offers her favourite sites at the Freepint bewsletter column, My Favourite Tipples (March 2012. She tracks taxonomy development, information architecture, search, user interface dessign - showing the breadth of fields that relate to the taxonomy specialist.

Of interest - Pinterest, the new image social bookmarking tool, is on her list. "...what first drew me was the quickly-growing collection of examples of interesting navigation and search design. It will be interesting to see how the community grows and evolves over time" - and she names some boards.

The Case for Auto-Classification

Fri, 02 Mar 2012 17:35:00 +0000

A Stream of Auto-Classification Consciousness by Randolph Kahn, ESQ, Information Nation (Feb 29)

Why not do more auto-classification of data? Lawyers do for e-discovery cases. People are notoriously poor at indexing content - (unless they are trained indexers we might hastily add)

"We have empirical data to support the proposition that employees classify and code information way worse than computers, by a long shot. Yet most companies continue to rely on their employees to manage information. “[T]echnology-assisted process, in which only a small fraction of the document collection is ever examined by humans, can yield higher recall and/or precision than an exhaustive manual review process, in which the entire document collection is examined and coded by humans."

Webinar about taxonomy and navigation

Fri, 02 Mar 2012 17:22:00 +0000

Does Taxonomy Equal Navigation? - new webinar from Earley and Associates - free with registration - March 7, 2012 at 1 pm.

"Taxonomies can be informative in designing better navigation, but it’s only part of the story. And while navigation requirements can inform taxonomy, they shouldn’t determine taxonomy organization."

Guided by an information architect

Sat, 18 Feb 2012 23:50:00 +0000

E3 Content Strategy Blog has an article on How Taxonomy and Metadata Leads to Findability by Theresa Putkey (Feb 6).

She notes that, "Taxonomy and metadata are becoming much more popular these days", and offers several resources for newcomers to the field to learn more.

Learning from Joseph Busch

Sun, 12 Feb 2012 16:28:00 +0000

Taxonomy Tools Requirements and Capabilities - a presentation by Joseph Busch and Zachary Wahl (Project Performance Corporation) - steps us through tools for taxonomy editing, metadata tagging, and content management.

Joseph Busch is Founder and Principal consultant of Taxonomy Strategies. He speaks frequently at conferences and will be presenting "Adding Value to Content through Linked Data" at the SLA 2012 conference in July.

He makes his presentations available through archives on the Taxonomy Strategies website.

Nancy Brodie, who teaches courses at the iSchool Institute at the University of Toronto on metadata and controlled vocabulary as well as information management fundamentals, wrote:

"I think highly of Joseph Busch and he is very generous in making his presentations publicly available. This seems like a valuable one to note on your blog. It might also be useful for Taxonomy Guide."

AIIM in Montreal

Mon, 30 Jan 2012 18:03:00 +0000

AIIM will be in Montreal on February 21, 2012 to present in French a session on Design and Implemention of Taxonomies. Presenter is Julie Nadeau. More information and registration at

On Organizing Content with Tags

Fri, 27 Jan 2012 07:20:00 +0000

Thom Johnson at I'd Rather be Writing has been writing a series of posts on findability - or more precisely - organizing content. There are 50 entries since 2010. It's eclectic - simulation, navigation, faceted - and much more. One one Using Tags to Increase Findability explores the value of tags as metadata. He draws from a book by Gene Smith - Tagging, People Powered Metadata for the Social Web.

Digital Workplace

Wed, 25 Jan 2012 19:38:00 +0000

This post in the VIP LiveWire forum - Can search replace "the perfect secretary"? - alerts us to a growing problem in organizations - that of making decisions based on data. It leads to two major studies: a survey on unstructured data, and one on the digital workplace.

The Swiss-based Infocentric Research published The Digital Workplace: Redefining Productivity in the Information Age. Its director of research, Stephan Schillerwein, observed that "Searching can take up to two hours of each working day".

Solutions are needed. The Infocentric Research whitepaper on the digital workplace and information management might help.

Introduction to classification

Fri, 13 Jan 2012 21:46:00 +0000

A Brief History of Classification by Christine Connors, TriviumRLG LLC (Jan 10)

Humans have been classifying for as long as they have used a written language. One of the earliest examples is Pinakes at the Library of Alexandra. This short history takes us up to Ranganathan's Colon Classification in the 1900s, and observes that the first enterprise use was by publishers of indexes. On the web we have seen the classification structures of the Yahoo directory and the Open Directory Project. Today, "Pattern matching is the basis for much of what occurs in these systems for rules based categorization."

Improving enterprise search

Mon, 19 Dec 2011 00:53:00 +0000

Huge problems for search in the enterprise Pandia, Dec 18, 2011

Enterprise search is not web search. It involves searching across disparate database. This article has some data on how bad search is - "some employees spend up to two hours per day searching for information in intranets and enterprise search tools"

The findings and discussion come from a report from The Digital Workplace by Stephan Schillerwein available from Infocentric Research.

"According to Schillerwein, one of the main reasons for the problems of enterprise search is the lack of context. In days of old, information in the enterprise was found by secretaries — real persons, not computerized assistants — who knew who you were, what your job was and what you were currently working. A search engine has none of this context. "

Schillerwein takes a very personal approach - what the employees does, needs, and prefers. There is no mention of an enterprise taxonomy

Landscape of Enterprise Search - book

Sun, 11 Dec 2011 00:31:00 +0000

A short introduction to enterprise search, Pandia (Dec 10)

Short presentation with highlights from Stephen Arnold's book, The Landscape of Enterprise Search. You can buy the book for a mere 20 USD.

More about finding the right solution at Pandia Enterprise Search.

Introduction to taxonomies and thesauri

Tue, 06 Dec 2011 23:34:00 +0000

LLRX has picked up Gail Rayburn's presentation on Taxonomies and Thesauri to the Washington DC SLA chapter. (Nov 1, 2011). It's a very good primer to the terms and structure, and a guide to how to go about building one. Includes a brief introduction to ontologies as well.