In a previous post, I related our experience with a large-scale taxonomy project for a huge jobs database. In that project, I worked with a complex hierarchy of job categories and sub-categories. It was mind-boggling, but I learned a tremendous amount about how the human mind still trumps the computer when it comes to discerning meaning patterns and relationships among terms with different literal expressions but the same meaning (maybe—natural language is so complex!).
Later in the year last year, I found out how important the right database tool and a great team of humans are to making a commercial search term collection truly useful in the real world. A company that runs a yellow pages-style online service wanted to enhance their ontology of keywords to improve search results for consumers. Since the yellow pages database included so many different categories of retail and wholesale products and services (from food to wireless services), there were many built-in rules to keep categories from bleeding into one another inside the database itself while still providing multiple successful input options for users (making sure that a user didn’t get results that might look related to the literal mind of the computer but which we knew belonged in different places, like food related to grocery shopping vs. food at restaurants).
We were able to leverage our independent associates to provide expertise across very disparate subject areas in order to make the best choices of keywords to add to the database from the client’s list of proposals. And our “indexer minded” folks were the perfect choice to think in terms of real human users’ needs for quality results and to understand the rules and input process for the client’s online tool to make these additions.
It was actually quite fun to coordinate with each other over Skype to leverage the group expertise factor when dealing with different topic areas. The end result was a much more useful search system for the client and a great collaborative experience for us.
PI’s Picks of the Week
Joe Wikert has weighed in on the “book-plus” idea and what readers will be looking for in the future in his blog post here.
If you’re interested in taxonomy and digital ontology, Taxonomy Boot Camp is the place to be this November. One of our very favorite taxonomy clients, Stephanie Lemieux, will be a featured speaker; check out her talk preview here. Also, do let her know if you have a need for taxonomy or keyword enhancement help with your search tool. She’ll take care of you. 🙂