Everything Goes Every Place It Fits

July 27, 2015  
Posted in Access Insights, Featured, Taxonomy

The traditional taxonomy is monohierarchical – there is one and only one place for every term. This is only sensible for many purposes; no one wants to look up a book in a library catalog only to find out that it is either in Section A or Section F, and no biologist would ever identify a new species as being both a fungus and an animal. “A place for everything and everything in its place” is the guiding principle of the monohierarchical taxonomy.

But there are times when that guiding principle just isn’t appropriate.

Take synthetic biology, for instance. To some biologists, DNA is just a biopolymer – a biologically created compound made up of distinct smaller compounds. A synthetic biologist wouldn’t be likely to disagree with that characterization; DNA is a biopolymer, so the traditional biological taxonomy still stands. It is also a type of information storage. The traditional biologist wouldn’t disagree with that characterization either, but might question its relevance in building a biology taxonomy. When the synthetic biologist is designing devices that modify DNA strands to store data and other devices to read that data, though, it becomes relevant. DNA is a data medium as well as a biopolymer. It belongs with magnetic tape and optical discs as much as it does with cellulose and starches. In the same way, genetically engineered spider silk is both an animal product and an artificial fiber in equal measure – pigeonholing it into a specific location in the taxonomy keeps it out of an equally good location.

What about household electronics? By 2008, Sony’s Blu-Ray discs had overtaken Toshiba’s HD-DVDs and were clearly going to be the next generation video format of choice. But Blu-Ray players were still relatively rare and expensive. If you knew where to look, or even to look at all, one of the most economical options for a new Blu-Ray player was the Playstation 3. Unfortunately, even online retailers weren’t marketing the game console as a Blu-Ray player. A monohierarchical taxonomy at the retailer would obviously classify the systems as game consoles – that’s exactly what they were. But they were also functional and affordable Blu-Ray players. There’s no way of knowing for certain, of course, but it is entirely possible that online retailers like Amazon.com could have sold even more Playstation 3 consoles if their customers had seen the consoles as an option when searching for Blu-Ray players.

These aren’t isolated situations. Synthetic biology isn’t the only multidisciplinary field. Modern science includes chemical physics, astrophysics, neuroeconomics, and a whole host of other fields that draw from two or more distinct disciplines. The whole point of these multidisciplinary sciences is to study the places where the parent disciplines converge. Technological convergence is a real and growing trend. Microwave televisions may not be the wave of the future, but a smart oven that can bake a pie based on a recipe it downloaded off the internet and then call you on your cell phone when it’s done may be just around the corner; if your next oven comes from a computer manufacturer, where will it be listed in the online catalog?

Luckily, modern taxonomy has a tool to deal with that problem: polyhierarchy. In a polyhierarchical thesaurus, you might still find DNA in the traditional biological place, as a child term of biopolymers, but you might also find it as a child term of storage media. Likewise, you could find that Playstation 3 either by browsing the list of game consoles or by browsing the list of Blu-Ray players. It isn’t suitable for every situation, but it makes for a more flexible thesaurus that provides added value in many circumstances. An article on spider silk is tagged in a way that lets both the researcher interested in animal products and the one interested in artificial fibers know that it may be relevant. An online store search returns the microwave television in a search for either microwaves or televisions. The polyhierarchical thesaurus replaces “A place for everything and everything in its place” with “Everything goes every place it fits.”

Tim Soholt, Webmaster
Access Innovations, Inc.

Standards in the Sky

July 27, 2015  
Posted in News, Taxonomy

What’s in a name? For Pluto, quite a lot. While NASA has been enthusiastic about seeing Pluto’s unique features for the first time, the terminology used to talk science has been interesting. This interesting information came to us from Sky & Telescope in their article, “(Unofficially) Naming Pluto.”

The International Astronomical Union (IAU) is very precise about how they name planetary features. The scientists have been referring to some of the interesting features of Pluto’s equator as “the whale” and “the donut.” IAU shook their collective heads in rejection of the terms.

Similar to how biological beings are divided into kingdoms, classes, and species, so too are solar system features (along with stars and galaxies) grouped and classified. They are then named according to an overarching theme, sort of like naming a set of streets after presidents or states. For example, Martian craters are named after cities with populations less than 100,000.

Flexibility is important when it comes to developing a classification system. 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 Data Harmony, a unit of Access Innovations, the world leader in indexing and making content findable.

Time for Camp

July 27, 2015  
Posted in News, Taxonomy

Taxonomies can be powerful tools when developed properly and by professionals. This year’s Taxonomy Boot Camp is about highlighting taxonomy’s many faces and sharing practical solutions in different real-world environments.

Anyone can learn how taxonomies can help improve the user experience and dynamically publish web content and hear about large-scale metadata optimization projects and the role of taxonomy in harmonizing structured data.

This is the perfect opportunity to learn about all aspects of taxonomies, from enterprise taxonomies to ontologies, taxonomy tools, auto-classification, and everything in between. Taxonomy Boot Camp is the only conference dedicated to exploring the successes, challenges, methodologies and products for taxonomies.

This year’s boot camp is scheduled for November 2-3, 2015 in Washington D.C. Learn more and register today.

Melody K. Smith

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

The Tightening of Data Security

July 24, 2015  
Posted in metadata, News, Taxonomy

Security in technology and data is rapidly becoming a top priority, and rightly so. The massive hack of background check records at the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) recently compromised the data of 21.5 million people. This interesting information came from USA Today in their article, “OPM says second hack affected more than 21M Americans.

As you can imagine, there is outrage and calling for heads to roll. “After today’s announcement, I have no confidence that the current leadership at OPM is able to take on the enormous task of repairing our national security,” said House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. “Too much trust has been lost, and too much damage has been done. President Obama must take a strong stand against incompetence in his administration and instill new leadership at OPM.”

Data security is a concern for everyone. So is access to data. Finding the sweet spot between the two can be difficult. It can be achieved by creating strong taxonomies. Proper indexing against a strong standards-based taxonomy increases the findability of data. Access Innovations is one of a very small number of companies able to help its clients generate ANSI/ISO/W3C-compliant taxonomies.

Melody K. Smith

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

Expressing Culture in Coffee Classification

July 23, 2015  
Posted in News, Taxonomy

It is always interesting to me when I find taxonomies of interesting and unusual topics. Even if they aren’t true taxonomies, they are typically classifications of some form or another, and they provide information, which is, after all, the goal. The latest find: Gizmodo recently published “A Taxonomy Of Hip Coffee Shop Names.”

We have come a long way from Central Perk in the 1990s sitcom Friends. Though it is easily one of the strongest catalysts for the genre, the creativity applied to coffee shop names continue to amuse and amaze the masses.

This particular classification focuses on coffee shops in London, but I doubt that it is much different from any major American city.  It breaks the naming structure down by type, beans, brewing, socialism, and more. Everything from Dark Fluid to Milk Bath to Butter Beans.

There is value in classification. True taxonomies can help manage big data by providing a solid standards-based taxonomy to index against. The results are comprehensive and consistent search results. Access Innovations is one of a very small number of companies able to help its clients generate ANSI/ISO/W3C-compliant taxonomies because of consistency.

Melody K. Smith

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

The Thesaurus as a Domain Model in the Modern World

July 20, 2015  
Posted in Access Insights, Featured, Taxonomy

colortreeSource: Dreamstime

Nowadays, taxonomies and thesauri are used largely for web navigation and for information search and retrieval. It wasn’t always that way. In fact, it’s largely the digital information revolution that has made their use for information search and retrieval a vital necessity in research, business, and numerous other types of activities.

Taxonomies and thesauri are sometimes referred to as domain models. However, the term is often limited to graphic constructs specifically designed as visual tools for problem solving. As explained in the relevant Wikipedia article:

A domain model in problem solving and software engineering is a conceptual model of all the topics related to a specific problem. It describes the various entities, their attributes, roles, and relationships, plus the constraints that govern the problem domain. … The domain model is created in order to represent the vocabulary and key concepts of the problem domain. The domain model also identifies the relationships among all the entities within the scope of the problem domain, and commonly identifies their attributes.

Before the proliferation of thesauri and taxonomies for search, most taxonomies served, in effect, as domain models. As such, they reflected and furthered our understanding of the relationships of things and creatures and areas of knowledge. Even today, by their nature, most or perhaps all taxonomies and hierarchical thesauri are domain models. We just don’t use them that way, for the most part. The main exception is in the world of classification of biological organisms.

The history of taxonomies is replete with the names of naturalists and other scientists who strove to categorize the natural world through the use of hierarchical schemes. Even today, mention “taxonomy” to a biologist, and he or she is likely to think of one or more taxonomies that serve to categorize the members of some family or genus (or whatever) of plants and/or animals and/or other types of organisms. In such taxonomies, the focus of the categorization isn’t on reports or articles or books or videos about the organisms (although those taxonomies could certainly be used for that kind of categorization, and often are). Rather, the focus is on how the organisms themselves, as represented by one form or another of their names, are categorized within the taxonomy.

Much of this work was done in the 1700s and subsequent centuries. The earliest of these taxonomies were based on the work of the philosophers of ancient Greece and Rome. The aim of all these naturalists and philosophers was to better understand the world around them by modeling the domains of nature, using semantic methods of representing the individual concepts. We still use this semantic approach! It has stood the test of time, as has the hierarchical design.

These taxonomies helped people to understand their world. Might we not also use taxonomies, or better yet, their more complex version, hierarchical thesauri, as graphical tools to understand our world and perhaps to gain insight into and solve our problems?

Barbara Gilles, Taxonomist
Access Innovations, Inc.

Where to Start?

July 17, 2015  
Posted in News, Taxonomy

The Library of Congress started taking steps in 2010 toward preserving the nation’s increasingly digital heritage — by acquiring Twitter’s entire archive of tweets and planning to make it all available to researchers. This interesting news came from Politico in their article, “Library of Congress’ Twitter archive is a huge #FAIL.”

Yes, you read that right. The entire archive of tweets. Many saw it as progressive and forward thinking. Many laughed and waited on the sidelines to point and laugh when they failed.

Now more than five years later, the project is in limbo. To say they bit off more than they could chew is an understatement. How do you manage an archive that amounts to something like half a trillion tweets?
Well, you should start with a taxonomy – a really big one.

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.

Director of Taxonomy Needed

July 15, 2015  
Posted in News, 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.

UBS out of Nashville, Tennessee is actively recruiting for a Director, Taxonomy Lead to join their growing Business Solutions Center. This position would lead a team of compliance analysts as the regional Monitoring, Surveillance & Controls team in key risk areas. For more information or to apply, click 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.

DAM Systems Ever More Popular

July 13, 2015  
Posted in indexing, metadata, News, Taxonomy

Digital asset management (DAM) systems are experiencing a booming market that according to reports will continue to grow through 2019. Market Watch brought this interesting information to us in their article, “Digital Asset Management Market to Grow at 21% CAGR to 2019.”

What is a DAM system? It consists of cataloging, storing, retrieving, and distributing digital assets such as photos, videos, animations, digital documents, etc.

Over the past five years, DAM vendors have been improving the products on a steady basis to improve the customer experience. By moving to cloud-based offerings instead of on-premise solutions, they have expanded their client base to organizations of all sizes.

A strong DAM is only as efficient as its system of indexing to create findability. We know that indexing against a strong, standards-based taxonomy can ensure comprehensive search results. Access Innovations is one of a very small number of companies able to help its clients generate ISO/ANSI/NISO compliant taxonomies to produce comprehensive results.

Melody K. Smith

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

Rules of Records Management

July 13, 2015  
Posted in indexing, metadata, News, Standards, Taxonomy

Records management has become easier and more difficult all because of recent advancements in technology. With the speed of indexing and retrieving comes more rules and more regulations, which are often applied inconsistently. This topic came from ZDNet in their article, “Best practices for corporate data retention.”

There are legal ramifications involved in corporate data retention policies. It isn’t just based on someone’s whim or fancy. In the United States, navigating these laws is quite the maze. Federal laws for various industries and the type of information involved vary widely — there is no universal rule that can be applied to everything.

Records management is a challenging job for any organization, regardless of its size and business. However, not all technology is created equal. It is important to choose the right partner in technology, especially when your content is in their hands. Access Innovations is known as a leader in database production, standards development, and creating and applying taxonomies.

Melody K. Smith

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

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