Immersed in Structure: The Meaning and Function of Taxonomies

Katherine C. Adams' article in Internetworking 3.2 (Aug. 2000) discusses taxonomies and their efficacy in supporting known-item searching and finding new information.

    Organizational structures within Web sites encourage emotional, fortuitous information-seeking behavior. Directories are value-laden tools of information organization that articulate a specific world-view. Because taxonomies lay out synonymous, associative and hierarchical relationships, they function like guides to information. They support the dynamic process of finding information and facilitate associative thought.

thanks, noise between stations

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This is a very good article.

This is a very good article. Adams also nicely points out that taxonomies are vocabularies for representing concepts, created for specific contexts, and as such are political and value-laden and embedded with assumptions. Such is the case with all pre-coordinate classification systems. Because judgements are being made from a specific world-view (that of the body that creates/maintains the taxonomy), expect a good deal of questioning of that judgement if your taxonomy is presented in some way*.

*Descriptive taxonomies, such as thesauri used in indexing, might not presented for navigation. They can be used for indexing purposes rather than for browsing purposes. Just a note because that is how taxonomies may be used in corporate information services groups.