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The Synaptica team recently attended Taxonomy BootCamp in Washington DC. Here are our initial takeways, watch out for a further blog post with some additional insights.

Knowledge Management patrician Patrick Lambe of Straits Knowledge gave a passionate talk about ‘empirical approaches to taxonomy’. Drawing upon many battle-stories from his long experience in the consulting field, Lambe described how senior managers in many organizations often attempt to dictate the content and structure of taxonomies based on arbitrary whims and subjective opinions.

Imperious Lambe counters such meddling with an engagement model and strategy based on empirical taxonomy construction. Patrick also revealed how the testing and consulting processes of the empirical approach are supported by three compelling pillars:

content warrant – the concepts and language found in the content;

user warrant – the concepts and language that users bring to their searches; and

de facto warrant – established domain authority files and schemes.

Patrick’s presentation is available for download.


While many organizations employ multiple software tools to perform similar functions, such as categorization, search, etc., this does not necessarily imply tool redundancy. Particular tools have different strengths that are optimized for tackling different data sets or functional tasks within an enterprise. There is, however, a very real need to orchestrate these tools.

Dave Clarke of Synaptica has long advocated that conceptual vocabularies combined with non-proprietary open standards are the key to unifying information that resides in disparate systems. Industry standards inform both the way vocabularies are constructed and the way they are interchanged. Foremost among relevant norms is the brand new two-part ISO25964 standard (and its various national antecedents and implementations) and the W3C specifications SKOS and OWL.

Centralizing all controlled vocabularies into an enterprise vocabulary management tool allows different business units to maintain separate vocabularies while providing the means to ‘wire’ these different vocabularies together through mapping alignments. For more information on the ISO standard visit: and

In a witty and informative sponsored lunchtime keynote Jeremy Bentley of SmartLogic surveyed the high ground that sits above text mining, search, content, metadata and classification.Bentley named this high ground as ‘content intelligence,’ which also happens to be the brand name for SmartLogic’s enterprise platform.Bentley observed that many organizations have multiple software tools to perform each of the core functions (multiple auto-categorization tools, multiple CMS tools, etc.), and that coordinating these disparate tools underpins the evolution to content intelligence and the semantic web.