A little known fact about Firehead’s founder, CJ Walker, is that as well as being a recruiter with a background in techcomm, she is also a trained linguist. CJ will happily talk about taxonomies, ontologies and metadata until the cows (oxen, cattle, bovidae, even-toed ungulates) come home.
It’s why taxonomy and ontology is a key recruitment area for Firehead. And why CJ is now busy preparing for September’s first online cohort of Firehead’s new course on Writing for machines and humans.
But our busy founder did find time to send over this great link to help communications snd content people understand exactly what taxonomies are. More importantly, it shows how useful taxonomies can be in sorting the content mess for users and strategising content for businesses. (Even better if you set up a taxonomy from the beginning and avoided the mess altogether…)
Content managers and information developers will have come across taxonomies at some level, often in a CMS environment. Anyone who has been involved in organising business content at a more strategic level will know how important it is to be able to think ahead and group content in useful ways from the start. What is often less considered is how vital it is to employ a subject matter expert to help create a taxonomy that considers all the nuances.
Cue this cute Taxonomy of Candy video in which a group of information scientists are given the task of sorting out similar types of sweets (synonyms: candy, bonbons, confectionery).
It’s a great demonstration of the issues involved in grouping content and why you wouldn’t just classify them by colour, shape, flavour, brand or age. Each information scientist approaches the task of creating a hierarchical structure for understanding the sweets in a different way. When you can classify content any way you want, where do you start and how do you find the best groupings?
The video also gives some insight into the work of a taxonomist and their goal of finding relationships between content that will offer useful knowledge management for your business and your customers.