Taxonomy Boot Camp: Say What?
By Paula McCoy
When you tell people you just got back from Taxonomy Boot Camp, you get some pretty strange looks. TBC is no substitute for the boot camp offered at your local exercise studio, nor does it have anything to do with animal classification.
Rather, Taxonomy Boot Camp is the place to go if you want to learn what a taxonomy is, who uses taxonomies, and why your organization needs to have one. I just returned from my fourth Boot Camp (the seventh year of the conference), where I again was struck by the variety of people who attended and the impressive things they are doing to create and implement taxonomies and controlled vocabularies. I also got to be around people who actually like to talk about indexing and controlled vocabularies and categorization and thesauri and taxonomies and user search behavior . . . the list goes on.
The conference is sponsored by Information Today Inc., a major publisher and player in the information industry. The conference is held almost concurrently with three other related conferences: KM World, Enterprise Search Summit, and the SharePoint Symposium.
Taxonomy Boot Camp is billed as a learning destination for those who are new to taxonomy. This year, the first day had two tracks: “Getting Started” and “Beyond the Basics.” The Getting Started track included sessions on the very basics of vocabularies, thesauri, and taxonomies. It was a great way for “newbies” to immerse themselves in the subject. The Beyond the Basics track included case studies from people who had led taxonomy projects at their organizations. Other topics you find at any of the Boot Camps are information architecture, taxonomy tools, text analytics, and use of SharePoint to maintain taxonomies.
How can Taxonomy Boot Camp help you? If you’re a book indexer, it can introduce you to the concept of a controlled vocabulary, something that may help you in your work.
The concepts surrounding the search experience, whether that be searching a website, an online database, or an e-book, will open you to a better understanding of the importance of indexing and indexes in the electronic world we live in. With e-books becoming more prevalent, book indexers must play a key role in the development of better search and indexes for e-book readers. The first rule for any indexer is to know your audience, and knowing your audience when it comes to electronic book reading presents both challenges and opportunities for the indexing community.
Finally, attend Taxonomy Boot Camp if you want to open yourself to new avenues in indexing. The opportunities are out there, and TBC will introduce you to the people who can teach you what you need to know. Seasoned attendees and industry gurus are ever-helpful to those who are new to the topic, and the list of references you have to take back with you is endless. I promise, it will be two days well spent.
For information on the next Taxonomy Boot Camp, go to http://www.taxonomybootcamp.com
© 2011 by Heartland Chapter of ASI. All rights reserved.