SharePoint 2007 – Implementing and Managing Taxonomy

We’ve been doing a lot of work with SharePoint lately so I thought I’d put together a quick post on some approaches to implementing taxonomies in the new version. As you may or may not know, MOSS 2007 (or Microsoft Office SharePoint Server) is quickly becoming the new platform of choice for many organizations. This newer version of the application is being leveraged in the development of corporate Intranets, Extranets and even public facing Internet websites, providing information workers with enhanced collaboration and document management capability.

With the exponential growth of implementations worldwide (MOSS is the fastest growing server product in the history of the company) come greater challenges and opportunities for improving knowledge management and information access within the enterprise. The need for consistent organizing principles across enterprise information is of ever increasing importance and, when done correctly, can result in leaps and bounds in employee productivity.

Before we get to any of the details however, let’s remind ourselves that the purpose of building and maintaining taxonomies is to improve the findability of information by:

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Tips for Conducting Keyword Research – Part 2

In my last post I discussed a process for putting together a broad list of keywords intended to act as the starting point for our keyword research. The purpose of this step was to give us the ability to cast as wide a net as possible in an effort to uncover as much of the language being used by our potential customers when searching for our content, products and/or services online. Doing so not only gives us the opportunity to wisely target the correct keywords, but also lets us craft our content in such a way as to tap into as much into the long tail as possible.

To illustrate, I’ll use the following Top Content report from Google Analytics. As you can see this particular page, although targeted toward a specific set of keywords, generated traffic from an amazing 5,766 unique keyword combinations! This alone demonstrates the power of the long tail in driving significant amounts of traffic to your website.

Google Analytics Top Content Report

Google Analytics Top Content Report

Keep in mind that you don’t want to generate traffic just for traffic’s sake; you want these visitors to do something while on the site, whether it’s to buy your product, fill out a form or contact your company. Web analytics aside, now that we’ve done all the groundwork and assembled our master list of terms, we’re ready to tackle the research part of our keyword research. Continue reading

Taxonomy and Records Management

Taxonomies, as hierarchical vocabulary structures, clearly define relationships between words and concepts. If a taxonomy is implemented and governed properly, there is a high degree of control over how terms are added, modified, and deleted. Terms used for content tagging can also be controlled in how they are selected and applied. Similarly, records management is a discipline requiring high control over documents meeting legal compliance. An ARMA fact sheet defines records management as “the systematic control of records throughout their life cycle.”

Strangely enough, taxonomies and records management remind me of the Panopticon, a prison imagined by the English social theorist, Jeremy Bentham. Let me explain. The Panopticon is a circular architectural structure with an observer in the middle able to keep surveillance over many prisoners at one time without the prisoners knowing who was being watched at any given moment. This allowed for great control at great economy.

As a liberal with world views shaped by films of the 1980s riddled with paranoia about governmental control and espousing an anti-Orwellian future as imagined in 1984, the concept of control of any kind stirs my blood. The Panopticon could very well be the source of Tolkien’s Eye of Sauron, presented in film as aloft in a tower—a kind of all-seeing eye with a 360 degree view. However, and here’s the connection, the control of records in an organization supported by a taxonomy structure can mean the difference between being fined millions of dollars and providing information during a legal discovery process. This by simply managing which information should be retained, retrieved, and/or disposed of properly and in a timely fashion. There is the bridge between the Panopticon and taxonomy and records management; now to build the bridge between taxonomy and records management.

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The Fractal Nature of Knowledge

Here is the question posed by Arnold King (http://arnoldkling.com)

I am interested in the phenomenon of knowledge specialization.For example, in medicine, there are many more specialties and sub-specialties than there were 30 years ago. My guess is that if libraries are still using classification systems, there should be a lot more categories. My guess is that major universities have many more departments than they did 30 years ago.

I think this is important in economics because I think that businesses and economic systems have become harder to manage as a result. In short, the leaders tend to know less about the specialized information that is further down in the organization, because the amount of the latter is increasing (I conjecture).

I would like some quantitative indicators of the rate at which new knowledge categories or sub-categories are being developed. Do you know how to even go about searching for such indicators?

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I spent some time thinking this over. I may have ranged too far from the question and I know I am preaching to the choir here, but thought the issue of economic value creation and knowledge categorization would benefit from a bigger picture perspective.

The problem with the question is that knowledge is fractal in nature. It is endlessly complex and classification depends on scale and perspective. It’s not a matter of “there should be more categories… “; there are more. It simply depends on where you look and your perspective. Continue reading