I’ve been asked if taxonomies can be connected. The thinking was, if these taxonomies are standardized, or at least mostly standardized, it seems that there should be a way that taxonomies can be connected in various organizational systems.
Can different taxonomies be connected or combined? Yes, they can be. They are normally built within a fairly small range. So, think about your data in XML. What DTD did you use? I have a thesaurus. What standard does it follow? It’s basically the same thing. If you have a thesaurus that follows either the ISO or NISO standard, chances are excellent that you can import and export most of that thesaurus automatically. And, the same with XML data.
I followed the TEI, I followed the NLM, I followed the Highwire version, I followed the new version for NLM. They are not a lot different but they are different. I follow the Elsevier one, which is the same as the NLM one, but it’s not. Elsevier and NLM came up with an early DTD for documents. It was a conversion of the one that Springer did for SGML. If your data is in SGML, it is probably portable to XML, but it does need a data map.
It was a conversion of the one that Springer did for SGML. If your data is in SGML, it is probably portable to XML, but it does need a data map.
I recently did a data map for a company that now has three operating DTDs in their site. It’s a matter of how to map the data. It’s not hard. It takes a little time. If your thesaurus was built or your taxonomy was built using the same standard, you can link your data pretty easily. You can link it, expand it, or you can take a slice of theirs and a slice of yours.
So, if we had your thesaurus and three others that are built with the same standard, we could merge all of them. And when we merged them, we would find some terms that would not be congruent. For some reason, the civil engineers talk about it really differently than the motion picture guys, but they use the same word. So, we need to be careful. We have a way to kick those problems out. Generally, it’s a handful of terms that we can resolve. Then, we would get the taxonomists together first, and if they can’t resolve it, we go out to the subject matter experts (SMEs).
Marjorie M.K. Hlava