Taxonomy Bootcamp 2009… A regular smorgasboard

Looking for a good way to spend a week in the California sun and learn more about taxonomy, search and knowledge management? Look no further than the triple-slam event of the fall conference season:

Taxonomy Bootcamp / KM World / Enterprise Search Summit West
Register today with our discount code to save 200$!

Mark your calendars, cause we have a full slate of taxonomy-related presentations this year, including:

Workshop: Taxonomy Implementation & Integration (Seth Earley & Stephanie Lemieux)
Date: November 16, 2009 – 9:00 – 12:00
Come hear Seth & I talk about how some of the companies we’ve worked with have been able to implement their taxonomies and integrate them with WCM, ECM and digital asset management systems among others. Hear about practical applications of taxonomy within different classes of tools as well as technical integration challenges (hierarchy challenges, build-vs-buy issues, etc.).

Workshop: SharePoint Information Architecture: Integrating Taxonomy & Metadata (Stephanie Lemieux & Shawn Shell)
Date: November 16, 2009 – 1:30 – 4:30
My friend Shawn Shell and I will cover the ups and downs of trying to build taxonomy and metadata frameworks in SharePoint – a tool with a distinct handicap when it comes to hierarchical metadata and search relevancy. We’ll talk about 3rd party add-ons that can help with tagging, taxonomy and faceted search.

Session: SharePoint Information Architecture: Integrating Taxonomy & Metadata (Jeff Carr & Stephanie Lemieux)
Date: November 19, 2009 – 1:15 – 2:00
If you can’t make it for the workshop, don’t miss this condensed version giving highlights on how to achieve taxonomy in SharePoint. We’ll cover a couple of case studies here as well, and give a quick overview of add-ons.

Session: Best Bet ROIs: We’ve Seen It All (Panel) (Seth Earley)
Date: November 19, 2009 – 3:30 – 4:15 EST
This panel of content management problem-solvers shares their experiences and perspectives of successfully determining the return on investment for folksonomy, taxonomy, and ontology initiatives

Session: Increasing Traffic by Integrating Taxonomy & SEO (Panel) (Jeff Carr)
Date: November 19, 2009 – 3:15 – 4:00 EST
Jeff is taking part in a fun panel format where speakers get just a few slides and a few minutes to make their point… Hear about how taxonomy is an important factor in many SEO ranking signals.

And if you’re not in info overload yet…

Session: Folksonomies: Beyond the Folks Tales (Panel) (Stephanie Lemieux)
Date: November 20, 2009 – 10:40 – 11:15
Join me for a panel that promises to be fun and informative, where Tom Reamy (KAPS) and I will go head to head on the merits and applications of Folksonomies.

This year promises to be a great show – join us in San Jose this November to chat about all things taxonomy, folksonomy, ontology, and any other “onomy” or “ology” you care to bring to the table. Use this link for a 200$ discount.

Special shout out to the TaxoCoP members – we’ll be sure to organize a get together for those of you who’ll be onsite.

Social Tagging – Questions Answered on Correction Tools and Vendors

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of giving a presentation on taxonomy vs. folksonomy in the enterprise to the Deloitte Social Tagging & Taxonomy Community of Practice, thanks to an invitation by fellow taxonomy enthusiasts Annie Wang and Lee Romero.

It was a fun presentation (a variation on this talk) and the audience asked some great questions afterwards. I was only able to answer a couple of questions before time ran out, so I offered to answer the rest on my blog. Here are the additional questions & answers:

1. Are there tools for auto-correcting social tags?

I had mentioned the idea that folksonomies are considered to be “self-correcting” or self-tuning – through volume of tags and users, anomalies (like single-use tags, misspellings, etc.) tend to be pushed to the side and the majority will trend towards correct/useful tags.This is an idea that I picked up from a whitepaper on social tagging by Oracle:

All social input strategies rely on the good-graces of well-intentioned users habituated to provide input over time to succeed…  Social strategies will self-correct for this problem over time under the presumption that more users than not will provide “good” information.

While this is the case on the web, where there are millions of users and tags, it will not likely occur as easily or quickly in the reduced scope of the enterprise, where you have a tiny fraction of this volume. So the question asks whether there are tools available to help encourage good tags by auto-correcting things like spelling mistakes, plural forms, etc.

The short answer is…. not really.

Continue reading

How Many Facets is Too Many?

Recently on the Taxonomy Community of Practice, a member asked the following question on faceted taxonomy design:

“I’m researching about Faceted Navigation and Information Retrieval. I’ve been looking over the Internet for some articles/books/white papers about which is the best number of facets to use on a classification.”

Interesting question, especially given the popularity of faceted search and taxonomy. The community discussed the topic, and a a few answers were provided by members. Continue reading

Faceted Search Design – Ordering Facets

I’ve been lurking on the IAI’s mailing list for some time now, but recently someone posted a question that I just couldn’t resist answering:

We are getting ready to roll out a new faceted search option and I’ve been asked to make recommendations regarding the order of the facets and their characteristics.  I am having a hard time finding specific information about standards or best practices.  I repeatedly come across Stephanie Lemieux’s recent article, Designing for Faceted Search, stating that both facets and values should be based on importance.  While this is great, can anyone point me toward supporting information or is this something that is just understood?  Are there general guidelines for when to list characteristics alphabetically versus when to list them in descending order?

Ok, good call on the poster’s part – I had been vague in my article (Designing for Faceted Search, originally published in KM World), mainly because I had a broad audience and a word count limit. But I supposed that I should clarify a bit…  Here’s my response: Continue reading

Podcast on Folksonomy & Taxonomy in the Enterprise

I had the great pleasure of doing a podcast a few weeks ago with Paul Miller, podcaster for Nodalities (magazine & blog), on hybrid approaches to folksonomy and taxonomy and their role in the enterprise.

We discussed the now tired debate of folksonomy vs. taxonomy, and focused on the strengths and applications of each approach. I covered how organizations are leveraging social tagging and what some of the pitfalls are in the enterprise context.

I also talk a lot a few of the hybrid approaches to taxonomy & folksonomy:

  • Co-existence
  • Tag-influenced taxonomy
  • Taxonomy-influenced tagging
  • Tag hierarchies

I cover some interesting examples and tools (ZigTag, Flickr & Library of Congress), as well as the new directions in “intelligent tags”, like MOAT.

You can hear more about these approaches at the Semantic Technologies conference next week, where my colleagues Paul Wlodarczyk and Richard Beatch will be presenting on the topic on my behalf. Listen to the podcast…

Follow me on Twitter: @stephlemieux, @earleytaxonomy

Can’t it just be like Google?

I often get frustrated by those who think Google is the greatest search engine that ever parsed. Don’t get me wrong – I like Google, I use Google, I employ it as a verb. But if I hit the search button and get wonky results, I recognize that they are wonky and am not afraid to blame Google. (Full disclosure: I have a library science background which I’d like to think has made me into a pretty good searcher, so I will usually try a few different queries before I point the finger at the machine.)

On most of our consulting engagements, at least one person will say “I want our search to be more like Google.” I have a few problems with this kind of statement. Partly it’s that most folks aren’t terribly critical when it comes to evaluating the relevance of Google results. It’s what we know, it’s what we’re used to. We don’t mind that Wikipedia is almost always the first result on any query – many might find that a “feature”.  We’re generally happy to take whatever shows up in those top 10 results and roll with it regardless of what it is, mostly because we can’t know everything that is out there so we trust Google to filter it for us. We satisfice (yes, it’s Wikipedia, joke intended)

Take these same folks and plunk them in front of their enterprise search and ask whether the top ten results are usually “good enough”… Most will answer no. Why? Because we have a better idea of what information is out there and what would make for a good result. Continue reading

ZigTag Finally Launches Semantic Bookmarking

So, I seem to have not been on the right RSS feed, because I totally missed the memo that ZigTag finally launched at the end of 2008.  I had signed up for the restricted Beta some time ago (there were 500 or so participants), and was awaiting the live version anxiously. ZigTag is a tagging/bookmarking tool that uses “defined” tags, whereby users choose from a controlled set of tags (through auto-complete) with semantic distinctions managed in a knowledge base.

For example, if you start typing in “Ital…”, it will start populating a drop-down of choices asking you if you mean, Ital (Rastafarian food), Italy (the country), Italian (Culture of Italy), etc.  If there are multiple versions of one word (synonyms), they use parenthetical qualifiers to define them. Hovering over a term also brings up definitions (brought in from Wikipedia).

ZigTag Screenshot

ZigTag Screenshot

Continue reading