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Jul 13, 2004: Shared Taxonomies

Verity's Walter Underwood pointed me to Verity's Collaborative Classifier (the classifier formerly known as Quiver). Walter says "VCC allows separate topic experts to manage parts of the hierarchy. They can look at newly-classified docs and set thresholds for where they want to individually approve them."

Different SMEs editing the same taxonomy within pre-defined workflow and role constraints sounds pretty neat. Could even shoot some holes in my taxonomy-skeptical enterprise IA roadmap (46Kb PDF). Although I should add that VCC's approach seems to make sense in contexts with specialized domains that don't overlap much, and with few relevant facets to muddy things up further. Then again, the same could be said for any large taxonomy...

Any opinions on or experiences with shared taxonomies out there? Any of you ever tried Quiver/VCC?

For your further edification, here's a use case straight from Verity's promotional literature:

Use Case: Chemical Engineers Collaborating with Knowledge Engineers

Peppy Plastics is the leading manufacturer of plastic toys in the world, with factories on each continent. Mack, a manufacturing engineer in the Chicago office, has been assigned the editor of the entire Manufacturing branch of Peppy’s corporate taxonomy. Shortly after, Peppy gets its ISO 9001 certification. To accommodate this, Mack creates a subcategory called ISO Procedures directly below the Manufacturing category. He then places a dozen ISO procedure documents in the subcategory, and uses Verity Collaborative Classifier’s interface to control Verity K2 Enterprise’s automatic classification features and create the rules that define the subcategory based on those documents.

Verity Collaborative Classifier automatically routes the new subcategory to Sue, a knowledge engineer in Peppy’s London office who has been assigned the role of Managing Editor for the Manufacturing, Marketing and Sales branches of the taxonomy. Sue notes that there is already a subcategory called Procedures under Manufacturing, and rejects the modification but suggests that the ISO Procedures subcategory should fall under Procedures. Mack resubmits the ISO Procedures subcategory under the Procedures subcategory, and Collaborative Classifier again routes the new subcategory to Sue. This time Sue approves the new subcategory, Collaborative Classifier immediately publishes the change, Verity K2 populates the subcategory according to its business rules, and end-users across the enterprise are able to browse it for ISO procedures just minutes after Mack created it.

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Comment: Rich Wiggins (Jul 13, 2004)

Lou, I covered this story for Information Today's NewsBreaks. Verity cited the same example story, and named DuPont as a partner in developing VCC. I'm surprised that he made it sound like this was Quiver renamed, as they told me "This is a real live Release 1.0" when I said this sounded similar to previous Verity products. (They did say it built on previous technologies.) Sue Feldman told me she has seen VCC and is impressed. http://www.infotoday.com/newsbreaks/nb040621-1.shtml /rich

Comment: ML (Jul 15, 2004)

From a client's pov, they are really pushing this product. They even included it as part of their nationwide roadshow a couple months ago. I haven't played with it since we really don't have the volume of content to warrant the tool. Still, it's fascinating.

Comment: Joe (Jul 16, 2004)

Hate to quibble about such a small thing...but Verity's use of "use case" is just wrong. Shoulda been called a scenario, since that's what it is. I'd recommend reserving the term "use case" to UML/RUP-like expressions of behavior.

On topic, this does sound interesting.

Comment: Jeff Werness (Jul 19, 2004)

I'm only just now familiar with this product but haven't used it.

In theory, this makes a lot of sense, and probably works for many organizations with the stated qualifications: specialized domains, multiple SMEs, little or no overlap. It may seem counterintuitive, but this sounds like a relatively verticle company (i.e., DuPont), taxonomically speaking. I suspect that only from looking at DuPont's site. Makes me wonder how large that type of market is.

On the other hand, if the product can be constrained at a federated level and still allow flexibility among a larger, decentralized group of experts, it would have a lot more relevance to a broader group of customers. This would account for the growing complexity and overlap in many organization's.... umm.... taxonomical nightmares.

All that said, I've used most of Verity's products and really think it knows what it's doing.

Comment: Lou (Aug 5, 2004)

Not that they're taxonomies, but Flickr, Furl, and Del.icio.us all support shared classification and are worth a look. Gene Smith blogged these "folksonomies" here:

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