Classification Systems – Topic Maps, Taxonomies, etc

This article by Lars Marius Garshol is great: Metadata? Thesauri? Taxonomies? Topic Maps!
Making sense of it all


To be faced with a document collection and not to be able to find the information you know exists somewhere within it is a problem as old as the existence of document collections. Information Architecture is the discipline dealing with the modern version of this problem: how to organize web sites so that users actually can find what they are looking for.

Information architects have so far applied known and well-tried tools from library science to solve this problem, and now topic maps are sailing up as another potential tool for information architects. This raises the question of how topic maps compare with the traditional solutions, and that is the question this paper attempts to address.

The paper argues that topic maps go beyond the traditional solutions in the sense that it provides a framework within which they can be represented as they are, but also extended in ways which significantly improve information retrieval.

After giving a very clear and understandable overview of Controlled vocabularies, Taxonomies, Thesauri, Faceted classification, Ontologies and Other subject-based techniques (throughout section 3.x), the paper give a thorough but clear discussion of Topic Maps, and concludes with a well-reasoned Comparison to other techniques and approaches.

While some argue that Information Architecture is a dry subject, it’s very interesting to me to peek into the level and structure of the thinking that goes into it. The rigor can mirror and enable the technical layer.

[from InfoDesign via Digital-Web