Taxonomies make sense of the volume of information

Sometimes, your Twitter feed serves up just the exact right article that you need in your current work projects. I’m trying to carefully define and refine a reference taxonomy for the site that I work on. And, the article “Taxonomy-driven Content Publishing” by Stephanie Lemieux and Michele Ann Jenkins is exactly what I needed to read to keep me forging ahead with this behind-the-scenes, sometimes unloved task of building and enhancing a reference taxonomy.

Taxonomies help make sense of the sheer volume of information that we produce (and that our readers consume). Taxonomies can help automate or dynamically generate pages and related links, by curating or aggregating content for us. Taxonomies are categories and topics, not just a set of keywords, and the level of detail in the relationships is a critical aspect to the design of a good taxonomy. And, while taxonomies enable dynamically aggregated content, don’t forget to apply editorial control and highlight certain pieces of content on those automated pages.

This wonderful article has inspired me to read further (I have The Accidental Taxonomist by Heather Hedden sitting by my computer) and to delve into the crafting, designing, revising, and improving on our reference taxonomy. Do you have a favorite article or book about developing taxonomies?

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2 Responses to Taxonomies make sense of the volume of information

  1. Anna Biunno says:

    Great post, Michelle.

    I’d like to learn more about how “…to apply editorial control and highlight certain pieces of content on those automated pages.”

    We have one individual working on taxonomies, which are supposed to help with creating “relationships” among our topics, but I’m skeptical that those relationships will be relevant. The skepticism stems from the fact that we don’t have the domain knowledge in taxonomies, and the taxonomy might not be structured well enough to pull off everything that we want it to. This taxonomy project is supposed to replace the DITA relationship tables and help with improving searches.

    I think it’s time for me to read Heather’s book The Accidental Taxonomist.


  2. Larry Kunz says:

    Thanks, Michelle, for bring this topic to the forefront. I wish I had a better answer to your closing question. Heather’s Accidental Taxonomist is the best piece I’ve come across. But I’m sure there are other good ones, and I hope some of your readers will be able to recommend them.


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