There aren’t many books on taxonomies, so it is good to have another on the shelf. Darin L Stewart‘s book is based on a series of lectures and provides a good introduction to key topics. As a format, that means you can pick the sections that are relevant to you. It has a very American student textbook tone, with pop quotes and definitions of key concepts in information science (e.g. precision and recall), but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a useful refresher for professionals. I particularly enjoyed the sections on XML, RDF, and ontologies as most of the coverage of these topics is either highly technical or very abstract. As the title suggests, it has a very corporate focus and so doesn’t really cover scientific taxonomies or library classifications.
The chapters introduce the concept of findability, cover the basics of metadata, types of taxonomies, how to go about developing a taxonomy and performing a content audit, general guidance on choosing terms and structures, some of the technical issues – introducing XML, XSLT, RDF, and OWL, and summarising ontologies and folksonomies.
I found a few typos and a few places slightly odd – for example I found the use of “Google whacking” to illustrate “teleporting” confusing and the descriptions of how to go about taxonomy work to be a little prescriptive. However, textbooks have to simplify the world in order to provide students with a starting point. Overall the book covers a good range of topics and concepts and is a light but informative read.