Occasionally I read about taxonomy and classification from other perspectives. It is interesting to get other views about it, especially as the writing style is very different to how information professionals write about these topics. I read a report by the Delphi Group called Taxonomy and Content Classification written in 2002. This report is from a business perspective and the main issue discussed is how taxonomy and classification can avoid missed business opportunities and reduce opportunity costs. It touts taxonomy software as being a better solution than hiring human classifiers. The software does need human intervention to populate the program with sample documents to begin the build though. Librarians are mentioned – and card catalogues also! Don’t laugh though, it is a useful visual tool for imagining how classifications/taxonomies/thesauri work. You just have to ignore the authors on pg 19. It is easy to feel huffy but you have to wonder about the authors if they do not know about online catalogues … Perhaps it is an indicator as to how out-of-touch the business world is with contemporary information science (no wonder they are losing money!) – think of it as an opportunity! They do mention that librarians are important though. I guess it is a matter of how you market your services. The next article I read about taxonomy was A Chang etal 2005, ‘The JCAHO patient saftey event taxonomy: a standardized terminology and classification schema for near misses and adverse events‘, IJQHC vol 17 no2 p95-105. This article describes the systematic building of a patient safety taxonomy that aims to capture settings, causes, impacts and types of misadventures that can be used from multiple user perspectives – lawyers, auditors, ethicists, patient safety bodies etc. It can also be used to make disparate reporting systems interoperable and enable longitudinal analysis. This second point is important. Instead of investing in data bridging technnology, using a taxonomy is a simple way of enabling effective data sharing. The authors admit that the system (at the time of writing) does not allow for multiple choices of categories as the categories are not mutually exclusive and that the system is not user friendly. I wonder if they had consulted a librarian for this project and if not, would these problems have been addressed if a librarian had been part of the team?
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