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Re: What about "taxonomies"? RE: Glossary of terms relating to thesauri and faceted classification

From: Leonard Will <L.Will@willpowerinfo.co.uk>
Date: Wed, 2 Feb 2005 12:30:22 +0000
Message-ID: <WBq4frHefMACFAhI@willpowerinfo.co.uk>
To: SKOS <public-esw-thes@w3.org>

In message <GOEIKOOAMJONEFCANOKCMEEHFIAA.bernard.vatant@mondeca.com> on 
Wed, 2 Feb 2005, Bernard Vatant <bernard.vatant@mondeca.com> wrote
>Re-reading your excellent work, I'm not finding the word "taxonomy" anywhere.
>OTOH, the SKOS page presents SKOS Core as "an RDF vocabulary for 
>describing thesauri, glossaries, taxonomies, terminologies".
>This word "taxonomy" makes me really nervous, because it is used by so 
>many people in so many different ways ... And I would gladly live 
>without it, except in its original sense used in my botanics books and 
>that seems to be consistent with http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taxonomy
>But the IT industry has decided it otherwise, and seem to use the word 
>in all sorts of ways which, at the end of the day, seems to me, boil 
>down to some kind of skos:ConceptScheme. And customers keep asking our 
>salesman : "How do you manage taxonomies?", and he forwards the 
>questions to me :((
. . .
>I would like to have the opinion of folks here about this "taxonomy" 
>issue before answering "skos:ConceptScheme" when people say "Taxonomy" 
>Similar question for "terminology", BTW
>Thanks for your lights


I've received both copies of your message - I'll just reply to the list 
to save you from receiving unnecessary duplicates.

I quite agree with you that it would be much better if we could leave 
the term "taxonomy" to the biologists. Unfortunately it has become 
fashionable, though as you say it is not clear what its definition 
should be, which is the reason why there is no definition for it yet in 
the glossary on my Web page.

Personally I think its use often conceals some woolly thinking by people 
who are not quite sure whether they are talking about a thesaurus, a 
classification scheme or some combination of these. The combined schemes 
are important, because I like the "unified" approach, where a set of 
defined concepts can be arranged (a) alphabetically, with relationships 
listed under each; (b) hierarchically, based on BT/NT relationships; and 
(c) in classified groupings and sequences bringing together concepts 
relating to the same subject area, i.e. as a faceted classification 

Perhaps "concept scheme" is sufficiently broad to cover all possible 
different structures of concepts and their relationships - is there a 
formal definition of "skos:ConceptScheme"?

I'd be interested in any recommendations for a precise definition of 
"taxonomy" in the wider sense. At present I'm inclined to define it with 
my tongue in my cheek as "a classification scheme, typically used for 
Web sites, designed without regard to established and consistent 



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Received on Wednesday, 2 February 2005 12:33:09 UTC

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