Audience Centric Taxonomies: Talk to Them Like You Know Who They Are

For many organisations, providing a single way to navigate information resources is unlikely to meet the increasingly complex needs of a diverse audience of users.

Forcing users to locate resources in a fixed manner is usually the main culprit in most failed taxonomy implementations. This problem is especially pronounced when users are migrating from their own information 'silos' to organisation-wide repositoies. To reduce resistance from users and to ease the transition into an environment that is more conducive to knowledge sharing and collaboration, multiple taxonomies reflecting the preferred discovery patterns and terminology of different user groups are highly recommended.

Those who have implemented taxonomies may immediately balk at this idea, since it could lead to a maintenance nightmare. However, we found that it is possible to both customize taxonomies for different user groups and to keep maintenance efforts to the minimum. Of course, this must be done with the proper planning, understanding of user needs and the right tools.

And this is where Synaptica fits in perfectly. A key differentiating feature of the Synaptica taxonomy management tool is its ability to provide 'audience-centric' views to diverse sets of users, yet maintaining a single 'master' taxonomy. This nifty feature builds upon the foundation of a master taxonomy by allowing alternative preferred terminology to be defined for multiple audience segments via audience 'extensions'. Terms that are not relevant to a particular audience can be suppressed and additional details or depth that are needed by another audience can be developed - depending on which 'extensions' are being deployed onto the navigation platform (Intranet, portal e.g.).

Synaptica automatically manages the relationships between the master taxonomy and its extensions, thereby enabling consistent searching using diverse taxonomic views. More importantly, it makes maintenance seamless as changes in any term will result in automatic updates across all 'audience-centric' views, eliminating the need to duplicate efforts across multiple taxonomies.

With the help of the Taxonomy Services team at Dow Jones Client Solutions, various organisations are using, or are planning to use this feature in Synaptica to enhance the information discovery process and experience. For example, in a typical corporate setting, users from different departments can continue to browse their contents using familiar terminology and views, even though they are really using a larger enterprise-wide taxonomy. Such functionalities help to lessen user resistance while fostering knowledge sharing at the same time.

In a wider context, such as that of a digital library designed for the Public, 'audience-centric' views can be designed to provide optimized browsing for varied audience segments. For example, the browsing needs on a topic such as Health and Medical Sciences would be very different between the general public and academic/researcher segments. These are just some of the taxonomy design and maintenance considerations that Synaptica addresses.

What this all means is that with the help of an experienced taxonomy design team and the right tools, knowledge managers can truly lay the foundation for improved information discovery and sharing without having to worry about details that can already be addressed by using existing tools and best practices.

To learn more about Audience Centric Approaches please see this paper:'Audience-Centric Taxonomy: Using Taxonomies to Support Heterogeneous User Communities'. This paper describes how the National Library Board in Singapore intends to utilize audience centric taxonomy to provide enhanced information access to its multilingual, multi-cultural user community.

This post was co-written by Tan Pei Jiun, a Dow Jones Senior Taxonomy Consultant based in Singapore.

ImageFlickr stephanieasher

Does Taxonomy Management within Microsoft SharePoint Always Need to be Painful?

It is a known pain point for companies who have adopted SharePoint that there is no ‘out of the box’ feature for classifying the ever growing content that they have across multiple sites. As more companies adopt SharePoint globally, the grunts of pain are becoming louder and louder and we certainly hear them and are working with our customers to ease that pain.

For an introduction to Dow Jones’ taxonomy services and a better understanding of the use and benefits of taxonomies within a SharePoint implementation, attend our upcoming Webinar on Thursday, September 11th. Entitled Taxonomy and SharePoint: A Powerful Combination. During this session you will learn some of the basic ways to manage controlled vocabularies using standard out of the box features that you can use immediately as well as learn about our upcoming Synaptica integration into SharePoint.

September 11, 2008 1112pm : Webinar: Taxonomy and SharePoint: A Powerful Combination
Webinar: Taxonomy and SharePoint: A Powerful Combination
Date: September 11, 2008
Time: 11:00 – 12:00 EST
Register Now.

SharePoint helps your organization connect people to business critical information and expertise in order to increase productivity and reduce information overload by providing your employees the ability to find relevant content in a wide range of repositories and formats. Understanding and using Taxonomies within a SharePoint implementation to help users find content, is an essential part of ensuring a successful SharePoint deployment. A Taxonomy can range from quite simple to very complex. In this session we will cover the basics of evaluating what you can do to create a simple taxonomy that will yield the most benefits for your SharePoint implementations. In this session you will learn a range of Best Practices, from the basics of building a taxonomy to the implementation of a taxonomy within a SharePoint site.

Recorded Webinar Available from this session on demand

Image|Flickr|By Vanessa Pike-Russell

We Hit the Airwaves with a ReadWriteTalk Podcast

In early June, I published a ebook about hybrid approaches to Folksonomies and Taxonomies in the Enterprise that has been very well received. Beautifully designed, it provides a high-level overview on why companies should be looking towards user tagging as a part of their content strategies.

So last month when i was approached by ReadWriteTalk about being interviewed for a podcast on the subject of the ebook I was pretty excited and of course a bit nervous at the same time. ReadWriteTalk podcasts are just one of the many podcasts that i listen to on a weekly basis so i certainly did not want to embarrassed myself! But beyond stumbling over some words, i think i did a decent job discussing the reasons I wrote the ebook and highlighting what the ebook covers. Although it is my face on the cover of the ebook (i share some of the behind the scenes as to how that happened), I also spend some time talking about the design of the book and the wonderful team I worked with to get it produced and made available for free download for everyone.

Sean Ammirati interviewed me and did a great job of not only prepping me for the interview but also making me very comfortable as we began discussing the questions he had. The podcast was also transcribed so if you prefer to read it versus hearing me go on and on and on about why it is important to look at some of the benefits of hybrid approaches...you can.

If 'Search' is the Answer, You May Not Be Asking the Right Question

Daniela's latest data visualization post and a conversation with one of the Dow Jones Factiva Project Managers earlier today got me thinking about a presentation I did a couple of years back for the Taxonomy Community of Practice. Seth Earley, TaxoCoP's founder and chief moderator, had once asked me to talk about my experiences with the Google Search Appliance, and part of my argument was to not simply dismiss it - given the cost, ease of implementation, and quality of results, it may (and does) suit the needs of many organizations.

Our Commitment to Data Exchange Standards

The concept of machine automated data exchange is certainly a road that is ever changing course, with many paths splitting off going in this direction or that. Among the many "standards" that evolve it is sometimes hard to discern which paths to follow, and which will end up in a dead-end. Our own Daniela Barbosa participates in many discussions around data portability and can certainly attest to this.

In the development of Synaptica, we have traditionally sought out a policy of trying to be as technically agnostic as we can, leaving things as open ended as possible when it comes to data import and export to allow free and open exchange with external applications and other consumers of taxonomies, thesauri and other types of controlled vocabularies.

[Read More]

Are We Beauty Obsessed Even in Visualizing Data?

5 Kitties Need Homes, 4 Cute, 1 Ugly. Who went home first?

I found this picture on on flickr by Bethany King and couldn't resist. I would probably pick the ugly one and give it all the catnip it wanted but we all know that the cute ones are probably the ones that in the long run got the most treats.

Showing live 'clickable' examples of something that i am trying to explain is usually the way to go - especially if I am not sitting around a conference room with the 'all powering' whiteboard around to draw pretty pictures (i am actually a horrible artist but that's a whole other conversation!). During those meetings if the examples are 'pretty' and demonstrate the point i am trying to make - then even better because who doesn't like 'cute and pretty'?

Upcoming Events With Dow Jones Synaptica and Taxonomy Services Team


Internally here at Dow Jones we have taken to calling September 'Taxonomy Month' because of the multiple events we are participating, sponsoring and organizing.

So below, listed by date are our 'Taxonomy Month' events- we hope to see you at some of them- and please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions!

Welcome from the Synaptica Product Development Team (or A Brief History of Synaptica)

Hello Synaptica Central visitors and welcome to the inauguration of our informational site to teach about and discuss Dow Jones’ vocabulary and metadata management tool, Synaptica. My name is Jim Sweeney and I am the Product Manager for Synaptica. I have been working with or directly working on this application for nearly the last 10 years and it has been quite the journey considering where Synaptica started and where it is today.

Semantic Technologies in the Enterprise Roundtable - September 22nd

This is a reposting from Daniela Barbosa's blog

On September 22nd from 2-6pm in Palo Alto, CA - Christine Connors the Director of Semantic Technology Solutions for Dow Jones and the Business Champion for Synaptica, will be leading a roundtable discussion on the subject of Semantic Technologies in the Enterprise.

Many of our Enterprise Customers have been asking us about semantic technologies and since Christine will be in town to present at Taxonomy Bootcamp in San Jose, we thought it would be a great time to schedule a roundtable discussion on the subject since our May scheduled one had to be canceled due to last minute scheduling conflicts.[read more]

Getting Started with Semantic Technologies

[Note: I originally posted this on my personal blog in May 2008, but it's so much more appropriate here!]

I met a gentleman who was at SemTech for the second time. He was very excited, really jazzed about the whole experience, but still wasn't sure how to win people over back at the office. How could he get them to embrace semantic technologies? It was a hard sell.

I wasn't surprised at all; it's the same song Kevin and I sang when we worked together. We got some great advice from people like Andy Shain and Eric Miller, which I have heard repeated at SemTech each year since.

Take baby steps. Keep it simple.