The Taxonomy Tango

The Taxonomy Tango
By Jennifer Zaino

<!–Mobile Content Networks sees a hole that needs plugging when it comes to taxonomy mapping, one that it may be able to fill.

–> “See a need, fill a need.” So says Mr. Bigweld, founder of invention factory Bigweld Corp. in the animated film “Robots.”

Well, Mobile Content Networks has seen one in the semantic web area and may well fill it. The company has filed a patent for its multi-taxonomy management method and tool. The application runs against multiple semantic web taxonomies to facilitate the exchange of information between classification systems within ontologies. That functionality is a core requirement for its own business, as a provider of real-time mobile search services that support wireless operators and content providers worldwide. It recently acquired the assets of Caboodle Networks Inc., which developed a multimedia, multi-service semantic recommendation platform.

“I’ve been working with taxonomies for a long time, and it seems no one really recognized the issue of multiple taxonomies except as a problem, but since it is the backbone of our system we actually had to manage that,” says CTO Phyllis Reuther.

“Because we are a federated search management platform, our taxonomy must map to the taxonomy of all our sources. We are basically a global application integrator in the sense of search.”

Its management platform, underpinned by OWL, puts an integration layer called a reference taxonomy between its source-level taxonomies and the customer-facing taxonomy that an operator would show to its subscribers. The operator then connects to MCN’s relatively rigid taxonomy, which it keeps in sync with the source data.

Mapping among taxonomies is going to be an important issue as the semantic web pushes forward, says Reuther. To some extent, industry and trade associations and library systems have tried to manage that by having their own reference taxonomy for their own content domain. But, “people are just getting comfortable with their own taxonomies and now they are realizing the world is full of taxonomies,” she says. Reuther says that she could easily imagine someone building a business on taxonomy mapping — say, for example, mapping the National Institutes of Health taxonomy to that of every new WebMD-like company that hits the market.

Continues @ Semantic Web

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