I have been trying to get to the Content Intelligence Forum meetups for some time as they always seem to offer excellent speakers on key topics that don’t tend to get the attention they deserve, so I was delighted to be able to attend Stephen D’Arcy’s talk a little while ago on taxonomies and ontologies.
Stephen has many years of experience designing semantic information systems for large organisations, ranging from health care providers, to banks, to media companies. His career illustrates the transferability and wide demand for information skills.
His 8-point checklist for a taxonomy project was extremely helpful – Define, Audit, Tools, Plan, Build, Deploy, Governance, Documentation – as were his tips for managing stakeholders, IT departments in particular. He warned against the pitfalls of not including taxonomy management early enough in search systems design, and the problems that you can be left with if you do not have a flexible and dynamic way of managing your taxonomy and ontology structures. He also included a lot of examples that illustrated the fun aspects of ontologies when used to create interesting pathways through entertainment content in particular.
The conversation after the talk was very engaging and I enjoyed finding out about common problems that information professionals face, including how best to define terms, how to encourage clear thinking, and how to communicate good research techniques.