We know what a taxonomy does and is. It provides the structure and classification to organize content for its best findability. It represents a predefined structure organizing anything from a range of subjects of general industries and fields of study to the microcosm of words and terms unique to a small business. They are usually arranged hierarchically, reflecting general concepts at the top and branching to more specific relationships at the bottom, and they show correlations between subject areas in their different branches.

Taxonomies also help to provide an optimized map or information architecture that either allows users to intuitively navigate content or directs users to the content the site owner wants them to see.

Classification and taxonomy are two closely related words that some people find confusing. Both terms reflect the fact that we encounter large amounts of information in everyday life and our brains need some way to synthesize and contextualize that information. Concepts like classification and taxonomy help us make sense of the world, in other words, by improving our ability to find unique and important content in a sea of otherwise unimportant information.

As taxonomies are built, it is important to include subject matter experts – people who know the subject, organization, or business intimately along with the published literature about inner workings. This is critical for proper development of a custom taxonomy. Just as in a bookstore which is arranged differently from expectations, the arrangement of the taxonomy for an organization needs to reflect the organization’s self-image, idiosyncratic though it may seem. The perspective gained solely from the content data, in other words, often does not reflect the organization’s self-image, desires, and goals.

Taxonomists who have built true, solid, standards-based taxonomies know how easy it can be to vanish into that rabbit hole never to be seen again. This isn’t to disparage taxonomies built purely using standards by any means, but a true taxonomy, complex and comprehensive though it might be, is not useful unless the organization it describes buys into it. 

Professionals should look for an experienced builder of solid standards-based taxonomies to associate content for appropriate machine-assisted indexing.

Data Harmony is a fully customizable suite of software products designed to maximize precise and efficient information management and retrieval. Our suite includes tools for taxonomy and thesaurus construction, machine aided indexing, database management, information retrieval, and explainable artificial intelligence (AI).

When it comes to classifying anything – insects, fruit, diseases, or candy – it is important to remember that the way the content is classified impacts its findability. Access Innovations has extensive experience in constructing taxonomies and can provide solutions that are ANSI compliant. We are the intelligence and the technology behind world-class explainable AI solutions.

Melody K. Smith

Data Harmony is an award-winning semantic suite that leverages explainable AI.

Sponsored by Access Innovations, the intelligence and the technology behind world-class explainable AI solutions.