Proper Management of Data

October 8, 2015  
Posted in metadata, News, Taxonomy

Retailers have long been trying to identify tools and strategies for turning their big data into a profit center vs. an additional expense. KM World brought this interesting information to us in their article, “Retailers Harness Big Data and Big Content for Big Profits.

Big data is a challenge for both storage and findability. Retailers are sitting on massive amounts of unstructured content and it is mostly ignored because the majority of it is unstructured content. This type of content is more difficult to organize and analyze because it does not reside within a structured data system.

It is important to take control of the big data before it gets out of control. When content becomes unmanageable, the user suffers and the customers suffer.

Managing data presents its own set of challenges. Entering the data is easy. Storing the data is done efficiently. However, finding the data with obvious searches does not always happen with ease. Use of data based on metatagging and indexing is essential to improve this process.

Melody K. Smith

Sponsored by Access Innovations, the world leader in thesaurus, ontology, and taxonomy creation and metadata application.

Classifying Video Games to Best Inform Their Audience

September 28, 2015  
Posted in Access Insights, Featured, Taxonomy

Trying to decide what video games to buy and play can be tricky; game classification is one way to better aid consumers in making those choices. Most stores classify games by the console on which you can play. It’s more common online to see games classified by the content of the game, rather than the media it can be played on, but the content some games can be hard to classify based on the content.

Game classification is important for another reason: the cost of videogames is relatively high compared to other forms of entertainment, at least up front. Any gamer will tell you that, for their favorite games, the $60-70 spent was a great investment. However, if you spend that money on a game you end up not liking and you go to return that game, you’ll find that you only get back a fraction of that price. This makes initial impressions very important for consumers, and classification is just one of those impressions.

Let’s look at a popular game this year, Rocket League, for an example.


Rocket League is a game that resembles soccer, but the players are in rocket-powered cars. There is a ball and two goal areas, and teams can range from four to just one person. This game would be classified by some as a sports game, due to the objectives. However, because the players ride around in vehicles and have many customizing options for those vehicles, some would classify the game as a racing-type game. Which of these is correct? Both is clearly the answer, but it can lead to some confusion when choosing how to present the game’s content to a potential customer.

If you decided to classify this game as a sports game, you might scare away consumers who never purchase or play sports games. The same could be said if you’d classified this as a racing game. General classifications, such as “action games” could be used here, but the less specific you get, the less interesting the game may sound. The game is sometimes referred to as a Demolition Derby type of game, but that is the opposite end of the spectrum: far too specific to cater to many types of players.

Another recent blockbuster game, Destiny, tends to defy classification because it combines two very popular types of game: First-person shooters (FPSs) and Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs). It is a game based in space and the objectives basically involve shooting aliens. However, this game also includes many features known as staples in MMORPGs such as character customization, shared-world experiences with many other players, and “loot drops” (in-game currency and equipment) for completing tasks.


This game in particular is divided by players who come from MMORPGs and players who come from FPS games. The MMO players often enjoy the customization and raid activities, while the FPS players stay for the smooth shooting mechanics and a large variety of cool weapons to choose from. Because of this, Destiny developers have tried not to define the game as a shooter or a role-playing game, but rather a “shared-world shooter”. This classification helps to bring in players from many different backgrounds, rather than exclude an entire subset of people who enjoy a certain type of videogame.

Videogames are often also classified by the intensity of the content, or by ratings. The Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) is responsible for rating all games in North America and placing restrictions on games with higher ratings.

Ratings for younger audiences allows parents of gamers to choose what content they want to expose to their children. These games are fun for children and often include educational benefits, as well. Games with ratings of M (Mature 17+) are restricted to young adults and cannot be purchased by children without their parents present. These games usually include violence, strong language, or sexual content. Classifying games in this manner provides customers with feedback on the content of the games and serve to limit exposure to certain age groups.

Trying to classify videogames can be very difficult for retailers, game developers, and publishers but is necessary in order to properly sell games to customers. There are many games out there that appeal to a very wide audience, and many more that appeal to a small subset of gamers. Games, like all entertainment media, must present an initial impression that grabs a customer and compels them to buy and classification is one aspect of that impression.

Samantha Lewis, Taxonomist
Access Innovations

Bob Kasenchak to present as Part of FEDLINK’s Building Web Taxonomies Program

September 14, 2015  
Posted in Access Insights, Featured, Taxonomy

Bob Kasenchak, Director of Business Development for Access Innovations, Inc., will be presenting at the Building Web Taxonomies program, sponsored by the Federal Library & Information Network (FEDLINK). Bob will discuss smart thesauri, how to build and implement them into an existing workflow, and what they can do for analytics and linked data.

FEDLINK conducts an extensive series of programs, workshops, and hands-on training that covers the policy and management of the information industry, as well as resource sharing, and technology. The Building Web Taxonomies program will take place on Monday, September 21, from 11:00am to 1:30pm ET at the Madison Building of the Library of Congress. Registration is required for this free program. More information can be found at or by calling (202) 707-4813 (TTY (202) 707-4995).

“Information science is quickly trending toward smart thesauri and ontologies,” Bob remarks. “My presentation will be detailed but not overly technical. I’m excited to be giving this talk to the FEDLINK audience and I hope they come with lots of questions.”

Bob is one of three presenters at the event. The other two will be Lee Lipscomb, Assistant Librarian at the Federal Judicial Center (FJC) in Washington, DC, and Keisha Fourniller, also from FJC. Designed to inform at all skill levels, from the new librarian to the experienced taxonomist, this program will review web taxonomy development basics and ways to improve current taxonomies.  The program will focus on taxonomy development strategy, structure, and designing a smart thesaurus. Following the panel discussion, participants will join a question and answer session.

Bob’s interest in information science began while working at Schwann Publications in the late 1990s.  Publishing a quarterly phone-book-sized classical music catalog featuring carefully controlled synonymic records and standardization of terms suggested the necessity for hierarchical data structures in the service of organizing information about composers and musical works. After a decade studying and teaching music, Bob joined Access Innovations in Albuquerque, New Mexico, as a taxonomist in 2012. Most recently his duties have included experimental business development, data analysis, and product development.


About Access Innovations, Inc.,,

Access Innovations has extensive experience with Internet technology applications, master data management, database creation, thesaurus/taxonomy creation, and semantic integration. Access Innovations’ Data Harmony software includes machine aided indexing, thesaurus management, an XML Intranet System (XIS), and metadata extraction for content creation developed to meet production environment needs. Data Harmony is used by publishers, governments, and corporate clients throughout the world.

Using Taxonomies to Connect

September 11, 2015  
Posted in metadata, News, Taxonomy

West Point Underwriters has chosen some new technology to manage metadata to address the specific needs of the insurance selling process. KMWorld brought this news to our attention in their article, “Addressing the challenges of metadata.”

Concept Searching’s conceptClassifier for SharePoint and conceptTaxonomyWorkflow are the catalyst of Web technologies designed to help reduce unnecessary costs and increase efficiency. Concept Searching reports that the taxonomy component gives users an easy-to-use set of tools to develop an enterprise metadata framework. This is specially designed for subject matter experts and will improve search results.

Having a defined taxonomy can help promote collaboration and connections. The taxonomy is a hierarchical view of a controlled vocabulary or a list of terms in their preferred form. Access Innovations is one of a very small number of companies able to help its clients generate ANSI/ISO/W3C-compliant taxonomies. By focusing on making information findable, we produce knowledge organization that works.

Melody K. Smith

Sponsored by Data Harmony, a unit of Access Innovations, the world leader in indexing and making content findable.

Choosing Non-Preferred (and Preferred) Terms for a Thesaurus

September 7, 2015  
Posted in Access Insights, Featured, Taxonomy, Term lists


© Kellyplz | Dreamstime.comSquirrels Making Wishes. Photo

Synonyms and other non-preferred terms are largely what make a taxonomy (or other controlled vocabulary) a thesaurus. They can enrich a vocabulary in a variety of ways. Searches on a vocabulary can take advantage of non-preferred synonyms to direct the search from those words or phrases to the preferred term. More significantly, each non-preferred term can be used as a basis for one or more indexing rules for retrieving information from a database.

For the most part, non-preferred terms are conceptually equivalent (more or less) to their preferred term pairings. The difference, of course, is that the “preferred term” is the one that represents the concept in a thesaurus hierarchy and therefore in the accepted set of words and phrases for use in indexing using that particular thesaurus. (I must confess: I’ve always been a bit bothered by the widespread practice of referring to all the regular terms in a thesaurus as “preferred terms”, whether or not they all have non-preferred pairings of some sort. What exactly is it that the non-paired terms are preferred to? Ah, well.)

The relationship between a regular thesaurus term and any of its non-preferred pairings, or vice versa, is known as an equivalence relationship. The discussion of equivalence relationships in section 8.2 of ANSI/ NISO Z39.19-2005 (R2010) (“Guidelines for the Construction, Format, and Management of Controlled Vocabularies”) explains: “The relationship between preferred and non-preferred terms is an equivalence relationship in which each term is regarded as referring to the same concept. The preferred term in effect substitutes for other terms expressing equivalent or nearly equivalent concepts.”

So how do we choose those non-preferred terms? Let’s back up slightly. Z39.19’s section 8.2 starts out with this statement: “When the same concept can be expressed by two or more terms, one of these is selected as the preferred term.” Actually, that’s something of an oversimplification, although it’s a plausible scenario. It suggests that we’re starting out by choosing a preferred term from a little collection of candidates; the non-preferred terms must be the ones that are left over after you choose a winner. (This seems more like a matter of rejecting the less fortunate terms than choosing them, doesn’t it?) This could very well be the case if you’re using a bottom-up approach to thesaurus construction, starting with a large assortment of possible terms and then piecing them together into sub-hierarchies.

However, most thesauri are probably constructed with a combination of bottom-up and top-down approaches. On the top-down side of things, you might be crafting the hierarchical structure in a more conceptually oriented way, adding the terms that first come to mind or that are available from your collection of possible terms for the vocabulary’s overall subject area(s). Often, those terms are the ones that best represent the concept for the users of the thesaurus. In that case, choosing non-preferred terms becomes a matter of thinking of or discovering possible synonyms.

Those synonyms should only be ones that might be used in searching the thesaurus or any associated databases; otherwise, you’re cluttering the vocabulary with deadwood. On the other hand, you should cast a fairly wide net, and try to discover or think of as many ways of searching for the occurrence of a concept as practicable.

There is a danger of casting too wide a net. The main danger, perhaps, is that of choosing non-preferred terms that have a wider concept than the preferred term, or that go outside the boundaries of the concept in some other way. This might not be much of a problem in searches within the thesaurus. However, it can lead to inappropriate indexing. For instance, if your main term is Dogs, and you use Canines as one of its non-preferred terms, content that discusses wolves, foxes, jackals, or coyotes is likely to be indexed with the term Dogs, even when there isn’t a hint of a single dog hair in the entire article or whatever.

Choosing a non-preferred term with a narrower concept than the regular term is perfectly fine, though, as long as that non-preferred term doesn’t match better with a different regular term in the thesaurus. You might want to check the regular term’s narrower terms to see if there’s a better fit somewhere else. Another possibility is to add the narrower concept to the hierarchy as a regular term. One factor in deciding on adding the term is the degree of granularity that you want the thesaurus to have. How detailed should it be for the vocabulary’s eventual users? How many levels deep should it be?

It’s worth the thought and care that it takes to have well-chosen non-preferred terms in your thesaurus. These terms help to make the thesaurus a powerful tool in indexing, information retrieval, and knowledge domain representation.

Barbara Gilles, Communicator

Taxonomist Make a Valuable Contribution

September 2, 2015  
Posted in indexing, metadata, News, Taxonomy, Technology

Taxonomy plays a vital scientific role: collecting and cataloging the natural world for study. Being a taxonimist may not seem to be exciting but for those in the field, they disagree. This interesting topic came from ABC in their article, “A day in the life of a museum taxonomist.”

Dr Amber Beavis is a research scientist and taxonomist at the Western Australian Museum, where she specializes in the arachnids of Australia and the Pacific Islands. Much of the work is highly detailed as she identifies specimens as they come in from the field and re-examines older specimens from the collection.

When it comes to classifying anything – insects, fruit, diseases or candy – it is important to remember the value of a solid taxonomy and its role in the search process. How the content is classified impacts the findability of your data. Access Innovations has extensive experience in constructing taxonomies for academic publishers, and can provide solutions that are ANSI compliant.

Melody K. Smith

Sponsored by Access Innovations, the world leader in thesaurus, ontology, and taxonomy creation and metadata application.

Choosing Broader and Narrower Terms

August 31, 2015  
Posted in Access Insights, Featured, Taxonomy


Photo by Fanghong, / CC BY-SA 3.0

As most readers of this blog know, taxonomies are controlled vocabularies in which the terms are arranged hierarchically. Terms representing the broadest concepts are at the top level, and terms representing more specific concepts within those concepts are placed at a deeper level. The result is a vocabulary structure containing increasingly narrower terms, with “narrower” referring to more specific concepts. And where you have narrower terms, you inevitably have broader terms. It’s partly a matter of perspective: Going deeper into a taxonomy, the terms get ever narrower. Turn around and go back up to towards the top, and they get ever broader.

These “hierarchical relationships” are discussed in section 8.3  ANSI/ NISO Z39.19-2005 (R2010) (“Guidelines for the Construction, Format, and Management of Controlled Vocabularies”), which starts with this statement: “The use of hierarchical relationships is the primary feature that distinguishes a taxonomy or thesaurus from other, simple forms of controlled vocabularies such as lists and synonym rings.” (Regarding the implication that all thesauri are hierarchical, remember that practically all modern thesauri are hierarchical. However, there are other things, such as equivalence relationships and associative relationships, that distinguish them from other taxonomies and from other controlled vocabularies in general.)

Logical hierarchical structure is essential to enable taxonomy users to browse and navigate the taxonomy. In addition to the eventual users of the “finished” taxonomy, these users include taxonomists creating, developing, and maintaining the taxonomy, as well as the indexers who hunt for and apply the most appropriate taxonomy terms for the content being indexed. There are also technical considerations, such as “rolling up” of the narrower terms to their respective broader terms for such purposes as customized RSS feeds. Creating a usable hierarchical structure is partly a matter of choosing good terms for the top levels, to serve (ironically) as a foundation for the structure. After that, it’s largely a matter of choosing good narrower terms for the broader terms, and of choosing good broader terms for the narrower terms.

ANSI/NISO Z39.19 discusses three types of hierarchical relationships: the generic relationship; the instance relationship; and the whole-part relationship. These are simply different aspects of the more general – more specific pairings that are the one overriding principle of hierarchical taxonomy structure.

The instance relationship is straightforward: the narrower term is a specific instance (“instance” being a one-of-a-kind kind of thing) of the broader term. Borrowing from the Z39.19 example:

Mountain regions

.. Alps

. . Himalayas

With whole-part relationship, the name is perhaps self-explanatory. If not, some examples adapted from Z39.19 should be.

Nervous system

. . Central nervous system

. . . . Brain

. . . . Spinal cord


. . Ontario

. . . . Ottawa

. . . . Toronto

In the generic relationship, the narrower term “is a type of” whatever the broader term represents. For instance, a parakeet is a type of bird. Using the customary visual principle (which, confusingly, not all taxonomies follow) of going from left to right as the concepts get more specific:


. . Parakeets

The classic test for the appropriateness of a generic relationship is the “all-and-some” test. In the example above, in going from broader to narrower, are some birds parakeets? The answer is yes. Now, going in the other direction, from narrower to broader, are all parakeets birds? Again, the answer is yes. Our example passes the all-and-some test.

Now, let’s mess things up (for illustrative purposes only, of course).


. . Parakeets

Again, going from broader to narrower, are some pets parakeets? The answer is yes. So far, so good. Heading back up, are all parakeets pets? Not yet. There are still flocks of parakeets out in the wild. (No, “a lot of them are pets” doesn’t count.) The example above fails the all-or-some test.

Most of the mistakes I’ve seen in taxonomies and thesauri have to do with hierarchical relationships that would fail the all-or-some test. It might seem like an academic thing, but what it comes down to is checking the logic and predictability of the hierarchical relationship pathways. A term in the wrong place is likely to be overlooked, and it may cause inappropriate or missed search suggestions, as well as problems with RSS feed content.

With many scholarly and scientific thesauri, the terms aren’t well described by the types mentioned above. With disciplines of study, it’s more a matter of nesting sub-disciplines within disciplines. The all-or-some test may still be useful, but you might need to mentally preface each term under consideration with “the discipline of” or “the study of”.

One more thing: Polyhierarchy is good. If you don’t take advantage of an opportunity to pair up a term with a logical term, only because it already has a broader term, you’re limiting the pathways by which the term can be discovered. And you’re limiting the subject area overview and insight that a more complete set of narrower terms would provide.

And now a quiz for you: What’s the opposite of logical hierarchy? The answer: Taxonomic anarchy!

Barbara Gilles, Communicator

Shades of Classification

August 28, 2015  
Posted in News, Taxonomy

In the world of classification, how deep do you go? This interesting topic came to us from Robb Wolff’s website in an article titled, “Seven Shades of Paleo.” This article lifted up with humor a common occurrence in any attempt at classifying data. Regardless of whether it is people or products, there is a scale and half levels happen.

Precision and relevance are factors that figure heavily. The critical part of any data, regardless of type or size, is being able to find the content you are looking for with ease and speed. A standards-based taxonomy provides clear and concise order to your data, which enables comprehensive search results. Standards are key to a solid taxonomy and comprehensive indexing.

Melody K. Smith

Sponsored by Data Harmony, a unit of Access Innovations, the world leader in indexing and making content findable.

Ontologist Needed

August 26, 2015  
Posted in News, ontology, Taxonomy

To be as helpful as possible to those in the fields of taxonomy, indexing, ontology, etc., we are sharing career opportunities that we find with our readers. Even if you are not in the market for a career move, it is always good to stay on top of what is available and how the fields are evolving.

The Radiological Society of North American (RSNA) is looking for a Manager: Medical Ontology. This position is to support the indexing and repurposing of RSNA educational content by managing its semantic enrichment platforms and processes and by curating the RSNA’s RadLex radiology term ontology. If you are interested or want to apply, go here.

If you are looking to change positions, good luck on your search.

Melody K. Smith

Sponsored by Access Innovations, the world leader in taxonomies, metadata, and semantic enrichment to make your content findable.

Organized Information

August 26, 2015  
Posted in indexing, metadata, News, Taxonomy

While not a true taxonomy, a recent look at the history of educational development elsewhere in the world classifies a diverse range of educational ideas and practices that have arisen with the development of mass education. This interesting information came from The News on Sunday in their article, “History of educational development.”

Gathering this depth of information required a strong dependence on search. Precision and relevance are factors that figure heavily in search, yet they are often missing from taxonomies. The critical part of any data, regardless of type or size, is being able to find the content you are looking for with ease and speed. A standards-based taxonomy provides clear and concise order to your data, which enables comprehensive search results. Standards are key to a solid taxonomy and comprehensive indexing.

Melody K. Smith

Sponsored by Data Harmony, a unit of Access Innovations, the world leader in indexing and making content findable.

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