Thursday, January 08, 2004

USENET Repost

Len.Kirby@pwNOSPA&&rm.com ("Len Kirby") wrote in message

> I need some advice on taxonomy development for a website knowledgebase.
> My Google-research taught me that a taxonomy is a classification scheme
> containing vocabulary and navigation to make content easier to find. It
> will also help guide content development because 'holes' in the content
> will have to be filled.

Len:

Taxonomy construction is a challenge. The best people to talk to are often librarians. Library Science seems to be the only field that really takes a hard look at the practical construction and application of taxonomies.

If you're interested in the topic, I can recommend some background reading...

Elaine Svenonius has written one of the best books describing the construction of organization systems. Although her work focusses largely on library classification, the underlying rigour is very valuable:

Svenonius, E. (2000). The Intellectual Foundation of Information Organization. MIT Press: Cambridge MA.
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0262194333/qid=1073616982/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/002-6489233-5910402?v=glance&s=books

We often think of taxonomies as rigid hierarchies like the genus-species relationships of biology. Unfortunately, for a number of reasons (i.e., no evolutionary process) these types of classification structures are often inappropriate for intellectual assets. Instead of a tree, we sometimes need a field of bushes. These bushes have to represent the underlying syntax and semantics of the related concepts. Thesauri are very valuable in this regard.

There is an ISO code related to the construction of thesauri (the ISO-2788 standard for monolingual thesauri)which is worth a read. It's not a quick read... but this isn't an easy topic!

There are also a number of preassembled thesauri e.g., the WAND Environmental Thesaurus, or Gale's Energy Thesaurus.

You may also be interested in the "faceted-classification" group over at yahoo. The archives contain links to a number of interesting papers: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/facetedclassification/

Finally, you may want to look at a rough paper that I wrote about business taxonomies. It's more of a "what" than a "how to" but you may find it useful: http://www.deregulo.com/facetation/pdfs/businessTaxomies_goodall.pdf

Cheers,
George

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