Content – a Taxonomy perspective

March 6, 2007

This article has been moved here…..

The basic idea behind creating and implementing a taxonomy structure is to get people to the content they want in the least possible time using the least possible effort. You use this simple idea as your bedrock principle and build other complexities around it.

In order to this a signifcant portion of your time must be dedicated towards identifying and mapping the content in your organization. This excercise ensures that you have the information required to create a successful Taxonomy framework.

If you have been part of the creation of a Taxonomy framework you know the amount of hardwork that needs to be put in to establish a comprehensive, concrete structure. The biggest uncertainty of the framework however is its use. Long term studies on Taxonomy structures have shown that unless you have a process in place to ensure documents and files get tagged or stored properly even the most robust system will come apart at the seams.

So the question is, what do we need to look for when coming up with a framework?

Firstly, identify the ownership of the content. Is it being tagged with metadata? if so , who will know how to tag it and where to place it. You also need to identify subject matter experts ( SME’s ) who are competent enough to classify the content.

Organizing principles, allow you to identify which information structure works best. A flat structure as opposed to a hierarchy might be required in some instances. The big concern here is creating a format that can be reused throughout the framework. This allows for consistency.

Map your information sources, unless you know what base content you are dealing with creating a framework is a foolhardy task. Some ways to go about doing this is to review file stores, existing documents and content management systems, the corporate intranet and so on.

The end goal as stated before is to create a simple structure that allows users to populate documents in an area and tag them appropriately so other users looking for the information get to it in the least possible time. The content approach here will give you an understanding of the information flow as a user see’s it, and thereby enabling you to create a more robust system.


The need for a Taxonomy Structure

March 6, 2007

This article has been moved here…..

Wikipedia defines taxonomy as follows :

Taxonomy (from Greek verb τασσεῖν or tassein = “to classify” and νόμος or nomos = law, science, cf “economy”) was once only the science of classifying living organisms (alpha taxonomy), but later the word was applied in a wider sense, and may also refer to either a classification of things, or the principles underlying the classification. Almost anything, animate objects, inanimate objects, places, and events, may be classified according to some taxonomic scheme.

Taxonomies, which are composed of taxonomic units known as taxa (singular taxon), are frequently hierarchical in structure, commonly displaying parent-child relationships.

The term taxonomy may also apply to relationship schemes other than hierarchies, such as network structures. Other taxonomies may include single children with multi-parents, for example, “Car” might appear with both parents “Vehicle” and “Steel Mechanisms”; to some however, this merely means that ‘car’ is part of several different taxonomies. A taxonomy might also be a simple organization of objects into groups, or even an alphabetical list. In current usage within “Knowledge Management”, taxonomies are seen as slightly less broad than ontologies.

In a nutshell, the purpose of a taxonomy is to help people find information. The faster and more efficient the better. You’ve probably encountered taxonomy without even knowing you have. If you have ever worked with a large quantity of documents or e-mails at home or the office chances are you have already created a taxonomy structure to store your information ( using folder structures most probably ).

Now a simple taxonomy structure is adequate when you are using it, however think of the possible complications if you were to ask someone else to look for information in your taxonomy structure. His/Her lack of understanding of the thought process behind your hierarchy could lead to considerable irritation while looking for a particular e-mail or document. If you multiply this problem with the total number of employees in your organization you’ll begin to understand the need for a single taxonomy framework.

Search engines on the web are great for mining content, unfortunately since they dont own the content, the relevance of the content returned isn’t of a very high quality. Which is why corporates expect a far higher level of relevance when using internal searches for content as they expect a tagging system in place. This is what a taxonomy structure uses to define its content hierarchy.

In future posts we’ll tackle the issues regarding creating and implementing a taxonomy framework in your organization.