When I talk to Information Architects about taxonomies it often seems that we’re not talking about the same thing(s)–which, given the goal of vocabulary control, is pretty ironic.
It turns out that organizing pages on a website for navigation and organizing hundreds of thousands of pieces of content for discovery are deeply related but extraordinarily different activities; this suggests that different demands (e.g., construction and design strategies) are required for each.
Increasingly, though, IAs are required/assumed to have competency across the various types of taxonomies, including those (until recently) primarily in the purview of library and information science.
In this high-level talk I suggest that there are, broadly speaking, three types of taxonomies:
… each of which come with different strategies for construction, implementation, and user interaction.
Naturally, there is some overlap between categories (otherwise what fun would it be?).
Although conceptual in nature the talk includes practical take-aways for taxonomy construction.
Topics include top-down versus bottom-up approaches, user and/or SME input, options for structural types and term formation, using existing vocabularies to jump-start projects, and automatic text processing techniques.
Bob Kasenchak is the Director of Business Development at Access Innovations — a boutique metadata shop specializing in bespoke taxonomy construction. Bob has led taxonomy development and other projects for JSTOR, McGraw-Hill, Wolters Kluwer, the American Society for Civil Engineering (ASCE), Engineering Research Education (ERE), American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Thesaurus (MSHT). Bob attended St. John’s College, the New England Conservatory of Music, and the University of Texas at Austin, completing his master’s in theoretical studies and doctoral work in music theory. He lists his interests as tea, music, pipes, design, philosophy, and literature. He is married with one cat.