I was delighted to be introduced byMark Davey toLeala Abbott on Monday. Leala is a smart and accomplished digital asset management consultant from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and we were discussing how difficult it is to explain what we do. I told her about how I describe “the evolution of classification” to people and she asked me to write it up here. So, this is my first blog post “by commission”.
In the beginning there was the word, then words (and eventually sentences).
Then people realised words could be very useful when they were grouped into lists (and eventually controlled vocabularies, keyword lists, tag lists, and folksonomies).
But then the lists started to get a bit long and unwieldy, so people broke them up into sections, or categories, and lo and behold – the first taxonomy.
People then realised you could join related taxonomies together for richer information structuring and they made faceted taxonomies, labelling different aspects of a concept in the different facets.
Then people noticed that if you specified and defined the relationships between the facets (or terms and concepts), you could do useful things with those relationships too, which becomes especially powerful when using computers to analyse content, and so ontologies were devised.
Here is a very simple example of how these different KO systems work: