Our regular blogger is out of commission while recovering from surgery. Please enjoy one of our favorite classic posts. On June 1, 2010, we launched our Taxodiary blog.

Classic Posts Summer – Taxodiary: Welcome to Our Blog

June 1, 2010 – After quite a bit of discussion with friends, colleagues, and staff, Access Innovations has decided to create a Web log. The name is TaxoDiary, and the information will be related to indexing, ontologies, controlled vocabularies, and related subjects. We want to share information that we think provides some insight and possibly some “color and shading” about the disciplines involved in making content findable.

The word “taxonomy” has entered the popular vernacular along with “ontology”. We think in terms of carefully conceived, structured, and updated term lists. A good term list makes sense to specialists as well as those who may need information but lack command of jargon.

There is also a great deal of talk about “facets” or “assisted navigation”. At Access Innovations, we understand that indexing a content object in a comprehensive, thoughtful manner makes it easy to display related information. We think in terms of “See Also”, “Use For”, and “Related Terms” and know that if the structure of the term list is off center or the logic of the taxonomy is flawed, “assisted navigation” will trip up the user, not deliver useful results.

In this blog we want to be informal and capture some ideas that we hope you will comment upon. We come across articles, blog posts, presentations and academic papers. Often there is a comment or fact that we find interesting. We want to capture these thoughts in this Web log as well. Automated processes are essential due to the volume of content that our clients must process. However, there is an important role for the professional, steeped in the mechanics of researching, building, organizing, updating, and shaping controlled vocabularies, classification systems and their terminology, and riding herd on the software systems. Automated indexing can be wonderful, but automated systems can tag many things incorrectly. Like subject matter specialists and professional indexers, software can make mistakes.

Our view is that the appropriate balance of software and human indexing is the appropriate way to index text, rich media, and binary objects. We want to avoid banging the drum for a blend of trained professionals and machine-assisted indexing. We want to make sure that we have checked our balance before we hop on the newest bandwagon in the indexing parade. Most of all, we want to make content findable.

We want your feedback and hope that you find the Web log interesting, useful, maybe controversial, and always focused on the principal value of professional indexing.

Margie Hlava