Trends: The Death of Taxonomies, revisited.
Earlier this year I caused quite a stir when Ipredicted the death of taxonomies. Taxonomists worldwide told me I was an idiot, nuts, completely delusional. Some were deeply concerned that their jobs were threatened, as if employers would change org charts based on my prediction. Others secretly told me they agreed.
Of course, as so often happens in these dark days of 140-character tweets, my prediction was often taken out of context. I had predicted the death of traditional, monolithic, and single-hierarchy taxonomies, as well as the death of what I’d call the typical turn-of-the-21st-century taxonomy project (which I did dozens of times, as a former taxonomist), where librarians and/or linguists spend a few months in an organization determining how enterprise content should be categorized, so content technology could use it optimally. This project would usually be followed by an even longer period when people would admire the taxonomy, nod knowingly, saying “that’s exactly what we need!” – but not tag anything, despite the roadmap and project plan saying they should.
As 2010 fast approaches, I’ve never been more sure of my prediction. Metadata continues to be vital, but technology is constantly getting better at mining and organizing it. As an example, this week I visited three organizations in Paris usingSinequa (one of the vendors we evaluate in ourSearch & Information Access research) on their intranets. In an approach similar toEndeca’s, entity extraction and semantic analysis create multi-faceted categorizations by people, country, city, language, companies, and other topics. Most of the content was unstructured; no taxonomy or tagging projects were undertaken.
– Submitted by:Theresa Regli, Analyst
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