Information is power, we must have it but how to cope with the volumes?
by Paola Di Maio
Taxonomies are knowledge representation tools, typically used in natural and life sciences to understand, group and classify nature, like plants and animals.
Early forms of taxonomies started being used by the ancients, whose brains were ticking off and wondered, probably when wandering around sunny spots just observing what was up.
They must have realised that there might be no end to the known universe.
Millions of different types of everything, insects, animals, fruits, vegetables, rocks, trees, stars, constellations.
Understanding the complex relationships between classes of objects, has been a priority for science since the beginning.
Once the products of nature have been classified, there starts the need for categorization of the product of human mind. Knowledge.
Now, in a new millennium, storage and classification of knowledge are becoming increasingly difficult due to the proliferation of information and multiple growth of delivery and access paths.
Not only humans produce more knowledge - the internet is exploding creative output, even if not yet sufficiently organised - The patterns of proliferation and exchange are exponential.
The 'any to any' environment ahead of us is bound to be chaotic.
Well defined taxonomies are now starting to become essential tools used in business to maintain control over data.
They are the backbone of every intranet, extranet, website and other electronic storage device. The efficiency of their structure determines the success of the information system, and their ability to manage growth.
The problem with typical taxonomies as used by natural science to date is that they are fixed, static structures, as they study the evolution of the species that generally takes place over long millennia.
Information Systems taxonomies, especially
when online, must instead be dynamic to accommodate for the variety of real time changes as they happen.
They must also be updatable in order to remain current, and 'referenceable',
to maintain the contextual relationships they
are determined by.
The combination of the above is indeed a challenge, and research experts are developing new technologies that will be with us for a long, long time.
Just need to find the sunny spot now.
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