July 13, 2010 — One of our readers sent us a link to a 2008 presentation by Razorfish about taxonomies. The slides are on Slideshare at this link; however, you may have to register. We were able to view the 66 slide deck in our browser.

Several points jumped out of the 2008 presentation, which we found quite interesting. With the growing interest in hosted solutions – now called cloud computing – it was interesting to note that no mention of this technology appeared in the presentation. Also, there was a description of the Razorfish category tool. By 2003, the company needed a more versatile and scalable system. In 2004, Razorfish embraced an RDF and OWL solution, again home grown. The presentation says, “No commercial tools suited us.” We did a quick check of our files and noted that Microsoft sold the company, which had diversified from marketing and design into software development.

The presentation noted that by 2005, integration with an “older CMS” was an issue. The other issues – latency issues and complexity – were a drag on the system. Usability was a major problem. In 2008, the company wanted to make sense of its metadata. In short, moving from the realization that indexing was important to an understanding of the complexity of that discipline took eight years.

In 2008, the presentation noted that Razorfish/Avenue A was examining commercial tools. We were surprised that Razorfish/Avenue A was unaware of the Access Innovations solution, which is one of the most mature and polished taxonomy systems available. We won’t name the vendors in the presentation but some of these are no longer in business or have shifted to different types of software solutions. One of the most surprising items of information in the presentation was the inclusion of “brainstorming tools” like MindManager. The company also include a review of “ontology tools.” Reading the list of vendors, we noted that there has been considerable change in this sector as well. Razorfish/Avenue A also explored visualization tools, which we have found to be useful in some situations. In others, the complexity of diagrams becomes a distraction.

We think this is a useful presentation to review. It is a reminder that effective indexing, taxonomy development, and metadata management are not as easy as some folks think. Contact Access Innovations at www.accessinn.com to learn about their easy to use, customizable tools, software, and systems.

Stephen E Arnold, July 13, 2010