This time of year I read a lot of trends and reviews. What happened last year and what will happen in the coming year is a popular topic and it is in fact a good time to take stock and think about initiatives for the year ahead. So here is what I see coming down the road for 2012.

1. More people will be building and implementing taxonomies. The awareness of controlled vocabularies and their applications continues to grow. They will be applied not just in publishing but in websites, association offerings, commerce online and in records management and retention. There are many ways to leverage a taxonomy and information architects have only brushed the surface in their applications. Medical organizations will also embrace alternatives to IDC-9 and the complexity of government driven coding to find accuracy through taxonomic means.

2. Taxonomies, controlled vocabularies, interoperability and linked data will become mainstream for corporations. Publishers and associations will also actively embrace the needs for control over ever growing collections. Universities and government will be late adopters.

3. With the increase in taxonomists there is also an explosion of “carpet baggers” these people see a hot trend and are leaping on the wagon with newly heralded expertise. It is true that vocabulary control has been around for well over 100 years, so many will have a back ground in the area, just a new field to apply their skill sets. It is also an area that is learned in practice, but not difficult to learn. The standards outline the options and there are many webinars, reading and other training opportunities in the field. This means the buyer beware in checking the credentials of their service and software providers. Is there hands on experience or book learning or opportunity seekers?

4. I don’t think the semantic web will happen this year either. In fact I don’t think it will ever happen as originally envisioned. It is just too complicated and no search system to support it has gotten out of the lab to handle large data sets. Just as SGML gave way to HTML and then XML, Semantic web will fade and Linked Data will rise.

5. I do think that the linked data initiatives will take the lead. I expect the Linked Data community will get over its focus on the syntax and start talking about implementation and application leading the way by showing how it can be done, in many ways and there is no single path needed to make those links. Mash ups using linked data will become much more common. Some of these are already very active sites and many more will follow in 2012.

6. The rebirth of Dublin Core. Oh I know it has been around for a long time – I have a few lashes to show for it myself. But when that standard (Z39.84) was “passed” it was by inventing a new way to get around the standards consensus requirement and used a new program called “fast tracking”. now 15 years later the reasons it got 7 NO votes are still there but they are finally getting an honest appraisal and serious consideration on what the functional requirements need to be and how to make Dublin Core work as a real measurable standard rather than a guideline. The new crop of DC advocates will make it happen. In addition the linked Data crowd and the DC crowd are working together to bring real change and education to the marketplace as well as to University enclaves.

7. The ontology name is so cool. Not many are really sure what it means and very few mean the OWL standard when they use it. Having said that I think we will all be talking more about ontologies and less about taxonomies (and certainly not thesauri) this year. We might still mean the same thing but our words to describe it will change.

8. Finally I think everyone will be more cut throat. Manners and honesty will take a back seat to getting the sale and the close. We saw that increase last year and I think it will continue to grow as a problem in 2012. There are two underlying reasons. The shrinking marketplace tied to the larger number of investment capital firms behind many businesses will cause them to cut corners to get the sale so they can make their “numbers”. The other reason is the increasingly uncivil political climate will bleed its desperation into all other corners of our lives.

Marjorie M.K. Hlava
President, Access Innovations