Saturday, March 15, 2008

Long live the Taxonomy

In our last post Robbert and I ended with the conclusion that:

"we realized that E2.0 and current mechanisms that are present in the digital world of working, aren't competing, but are complementary"

Yesterday I read an AIIM post on the "SharePoint Effect". This effect is in my opinion a perfect example of organisations not seeing this complementary nature of Digital Order and Digital Freedom. In an earlier post I made I pointed out that E2.0 and it's mechanisms is a perfect "Add on" for the Current Information Architecture.

So, the taxonomy is alive and kicking?

Yes, but differently. With mechanisms to help you structure (or, I'd rather say, facilitate) unstructured knowledge intensive processes, Information managers, Enterprise Architects and others experts in the field, don't have to "Engineer The World" in advance into a repository. Parts of the organisation processes are fuzzy, messy. My opinion: don't try to make it otherwise. There's nothing wrong with Chaos. As long as it emerges within a well established framework. The result: Control AND Collaboration


Dan Keldsen said...

Having spent 7 years helping people understand more formal taxonomies, combined with information architectures and search, I can definitely echo your sentiment.

The trick is not to pre-define everything, but to be able to build some structures that are stable enough to be useful, yet adaptable enough to change with the times.

You might find my post at amusing, as I explain my introduction of folksonomies and more fluid structures right in the middle of a two and a half day session we used to do on Taxonomy, IA and Search.

It was fun to do, and necessary, if we were to stay ahead of the curve. Of course so many people are still BEHIND that curve now, but that's the nature of the adoption of any new ideas.

Vincent said...

I saw your presentation (and added it to my Indeed quit amusing. In fact, spot on.

I see that the E2.0 conference in Boston is picking up this signal more and more as well.


Dan Keldsen said...

Hi Vincent - yes, the Enterprise 2.0 Conference this week is definitely abuzz about Folksonomy, Taxonomy, Participation, and much more.

Had a chance to talk to Thomas Vander Wal (coiner of the term "Folksonomy") last night at the Speaker/VIP Reception, and had a chance to chat about his latest thinking on what the value of social bookmarking is, to an individual, to teams, to organizations, and how best to marry social bookmarking/tagging capabilities to more traditional capabilities to get the best of both worlds.

I didn't have a chance to see his presentation live, but you can find a copy of the slides at

Vincent said...

Hi Dan,

thanks for the reply. I've been following Thomas for quite a while now (twitter). Very interesting. We at YNNO work a lot for clients involved in trying to realize a digital working environment. I have a lot of experience with discussions involving the discrepancies between the organization/user-perceptions for taxonomy/folksonomy, ridged/flexible structures, processes and workstyles, et cetera et cetera.

I always thought that “something was missing in the middle”. Jenny Ambrozek gave a beautiful insight of this (at the E2.0 summit in Hannover):

E2.0 gives me an extra input in my projects, because:
1. It helps to “ease down” the taxonomists (1.0 stile) and recordsmanagers, who want to engineer the world in advance according to NEN, ISO, Basel, SOX, et cetera
2. It helps “sooth” the knowledgeworkers and managers, who might be worried their work gets encapsulated in policies, guidelines, and straight through processes.

What I find most strange is that there are two "camps", which are "battling each other" (in the mildest sense of the word of course). Thomas aims to take the middle route, which is (imho) the best road to choose. Which I saw in your presentation too.


Dan Keldsen said...

Vincent - FYI, the final publication of our Market IQ on Findability is now available, if you haven't already received notification. Free download, and an executive summary is forthcoming as well, for those who are pressed for time.