Controlled Vocabularies and Folksonomies

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Controlled Vocabularies
and Folksonomies

ISYS 2357
-

Assignment 1


Submitted by David Laurence 9453159X








9453159X


David Laurence

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TABLE OF CONTENTS


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

................................
................................
......................

1


INTRODUCTION

................................
................................
................................
..

3

C
OMPANY BACKGROUND

................................
................................
......................

3

F
OCUS OF
R
EPORT

................................
................................
..............................

3


CONTROLLED VOCABULAR
Y

................................
................................
...........

4

C
ONTROLLED VOCABULARY



D
EFINITION

................................
..............................

4


TAXONOMY

................................
................................
................................
.........

5

W
HAT IS
T
AXONOMY
?

................................
................................
..........................

5

E
XAMPLES OF TAXONOMY

................................
................................
.....................

6

B
ENEFITS AND
D
RAWBACKS OF
T
AXONOMY

................................
...........................

7


ONTOLOGY

................................
................................
................................
.........

8

D
EFINITION OF
O
NTOLOGY
................................
................................
....................

8

E
XAMPLES OF
O
NTOLOGY

................................
................................
....................

9

B
ENEFITS AND
D
RAWBACKS OF
O
NTOLOGY

................................
.........................

10


USER
-
GENERATED TAGGING AN
D FOLKSONOMY

................................
.....

11

W
HAT IS
U
SER
-
G
ENERATED TAGGING
?

................................
...............................

11

E
XAMPLE OF USER
-
GENERATED TAGGING

................................
............................

12

B
ENEFITS AND DRAWBACK
S OF USE
R
-
GENERATED TAGGING

................................
..

13


CONCLUSION

................................
................................
................................
....

14


REFERENCE LIST

................................
................................
.............................

15



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David Laurence

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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The focus of this report was to examine the discipline of subject description and in
particular the area of controlled vocabulary
.


Controlled vocabulary has many definitions however one common definition is that
controlled vocabulary is a list of terms which have a defined meaning. There are various
forms of controlled vocabulary; however the focus of this report was to examine tw
o in
particular


taxonomy and ontology.


Taxonomy is essentially a hierarchy based upon a parent
-
child relationship. Ontology is
similar to taxonomy but with the ability to have each subject related to more than one
category, which is not the case with ta
xonomy. Both systems have both benefits and
drawbacks.




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The report then focussed on the area of user
-
generated tagging which is also known as
folksonomy. This method has only recently come to the fore with the advent of modern
technology such as the
internet

and

is most commonly used when indexing digital
images. It involves the end
-
user assign
ing

their own subject terms rather than following a
more strict classification system. As with the above two systems, the benefits and
drawbacks were examined.


The report then concluded that whichever system is chosen, an indexing policy should be
implemented to ensure that information standards within the organisation are set and
adhered to.



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INTRODUCTION

Company background

Our

company is a medium sized trave
l agency based in Melbourne with branches in
Hobart and Adelaide. The organisation specialises in organising travel arrangements for
both corporate and leisure travel. Our clientele
are

mainly Australian based, though we
do have clients based overseas inc
luding the USA and Canada.


Focus of Report

This report will discuss the area of controlled vocabularies focussing on both taxonomy
and ontology. This report will define both taxonomy and ontology and will discuss the
advantages and disadvantages of both
systems. It will also illustrate with examples on
how both systems can be used in the organisation.


The next section will then talk about what is meant by the term folksonomy and how it is
similar and different to controlled vocabulary and how it could be

utilised within the
organisation.


Finally this report will conclude by discussing the advantages and disadvantages of
implementing a controlled vocabulary in the proposed document repository system.





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CONTROLLED VOCABULARY

The following sections of thi
s report will discuss the area of controlled vocabularies and
focus in particular two systems of controlled vocabulary


taxonomy and ontology. It
will define both systems and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each system.


Controlled vocabulary



Definition

Before we discuss the two controlled vocabulary systems, it is important to
define

what is
meant by
Controlled V
ocabulary.
Cumming (2005) defines a controlled vocabulary as a
list of terms or headings
each one having an assigned meaning.
Cumming then goes on to
state that a controlled vocabulary is designed for classifying, indexing and searching for
information resources. Essentially, if everyone uses the same name for the same concept,
things become much easier to find. (2005 p 1)
.


Another definition of a controlled vocabulary is that it is a list of terms that have been
enumerated explicitly and that all terms have an unambiguous non
-
redundant definition
(Jenst 2003)
.

The
subsequent

section
s

will
examine

two types of controlled voca
bulary


taxonomy and ontology.



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TAXONOMY

The following section will investigate the controlled vocabulary system of taxonomy.
Firstly it will provide a clear definition on what taxonomy is, secondly it will illustrate
with examples on how a taxonomy syst
em works and will summarise the advantages and
disadvantages of taxonomy.


What is Taxonomy?

There have been many
definitions on what is meant by the term taxonomy. One
definition of taxonomy is a collection of controlled vocabulary terms listed in a
hier
archical structure in a parent
-
child relationship. (Jenst 2003).


Another similar definition of taxonomy as defined by Garshol (2004) is that taxonomy is
a subject
-
based classification system that arranges terms in a controlled vocabulary
system into a
hie
rarchical

structure, without doing anything further.

Hoberman (2008)
offered a similar definition by stating that taxonomy is
ontology

in the form of a
hierarchy.
The definition of ontology is defined later in the report.


In summary,
taxonomy

are

essentia
lly subjects that have been organised in a hierarchy
using a parent
-
child relationship.



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Examples of taxonomy

In our organisation, an example of
taxonomy

could be the following:

Australian Cities


Adelaide

Canberra


Australian War Memorial


Taxonomy can
be further defined by what is called ‘
poly
-
hierarchical

taxonomy’. In a
traditional taxonomy, an item can only appear once e.g. Australian War Memorial can
only appear under Canberra. In a
poly
-
hierarchical

taxonomy, an item can appear more
than once (Cumming 2005).
This was clearly

illustrated by Cumming (2005)
and is

shown below:



















Fruit

Vegetables

Salad
Vegetables

Root
Vegetables

Tree Fruit


Vine Fruit

Apples

Pears

Grapes

Tomatoes

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In our company, a poly
-
hierarchical

taxonomy could be defined as:










As seen in the above
example, Parliament house can be classified as both a public
building and as a tourist attraction.


Benefits and Drawbacks of Taxonomy

As
shown above

taxonomy is structured in a parent
-
child relationship i.e. the broad term
at the top of the tree with sub
-
headings or subjects as branches. One of the benefits that a
taxonomy system can bring is that it can help organise data into a logical manner i.e. by
attempting to classify data into subjects.


However the main drawback is that in a traditional taxonomy,

an item can only appear
once. This of course then limits in how an item can be classified and could cause
confusion when classifying an item. This area of concern has been addressed to some
extent by the introduction of poly
-
hierarchical

taxonomy.



Public
Buildings

Tourist

Attractions

High
Court

Parliament
House

Australian
War
Memorial

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ONT
OLOGY

The next section

will discuss the area of ontology. It will highlight what is meant by the
term ontology, specify some examples of ontology
and discuss what are the benefits and
drawbacks of ontology.


Definition of Ontology

Like taxonomy, there are many definitions on what can be classified as ontology.
Ontology itself can be seen as a definition of controlled vocabulary, which as this report
has illustrated is a very broad definition and does not cover the unique aspects of

each
system.


One
formal
definition
as
outlined by Hoberman (2008) is that ontology is a formal way of
organising information by placing them into categories and relating these categories to
each other.

Another
definition of ontology is that
it

can be d
escribed as terms that are
used in a particular application, characterise possible relationships, and define possible
constraint
s on using those relationships.
(W3C 2008).



An additional definition of ontology can be described as a ‘formal explicit specif
ication
of a shared conceptualisation’ (Kabel et al 2004 p 350).



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Examples of Ontology

As seen in the previous section, there are many similar definitions on what is meant by
the term ontology.
To illustrate what is meant by ontology, we have created an
example
based on how ontology can be used in our organisation.

Example

L
et us assume that we receive bookings from customers requesting accommodation in
Melbourne. One customer
states that they wish to stay in the ‘City’ whist another
customer wishes to
stay in the ‘CBD’. Both mean that they wish to stay in the city, rather
than the suburbs. In this case, the ‘glue’ would be ‘City’ and ‘CBD’ which will then
make both terms ‘City’ and ‘CBD’ to be the same.




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Benefits and Drawbacks of Ontology

We will no
w discuss the benefits and drawbacks of using the system of ontology in the
organisation. The main advantage of using ontology is that unlike, taxonomy,
relationships can be formed between like terms. The examples that we used were for our
company example

‘City’ and ‘CBD’ were used to represent the same meaning. In an
ontology scenario, these meanings would have been picked up and recognised that they
have the same meaning.

I
n a taxonomy environment,
these

would have been discarded.
Thus it allows the use
r/implementer of the system to expand the control based upon their
knowledge base.


However this leads to the main drawback of the system. Whilst it is very convenient to
allow the user to specify
subjects based on their own knowledge base
, it can also be a
downfall. The reason is that the user/implementer of the system
may overlook potential
meanings of words e.g. for an address they could overlook zip code meaning post code.
This would be a drawback in our instance since we take bookings
for accommodations
from overseas clients, especially those from the USA and Canada.



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USER
-
GENERATED TAGGING AND FOLKSONOMY

In the previous sections, we have discussed controlled vocabulary and have
analysed

two
systems in
-
depth


taxonomy and ontology.

However in
recent times

there has been
another form of
subject classification that has arisen which is
called
user
-
generated
tagging or
otherwise

known as folksonomy.


What is User
-
Generated tagging?

User
-
generated tagging (folksonomy)
is a method of clas
sification that does not follow
the rules of traditional controlled vocabulary methods such as taxonomy and ontology. It
allows the end
-
user to assign their own subject headings to documents without the
need
to follow traditional methods as outlined above.

This definition of user
-
generated tagging
was further clarified by
Matusiak

(2006) who stated that social classification
/user
-
generated tagging/folksonomy

allows the user to create their own terminology using
natural language terms, known as tags.

User
-
ge
nerated tagging can also be further
defined as consumer
-
generated metadata to identify and categorise online content (Rule
2008 p 21).


Rule (2008) outlined that u
ser
-
generated tagging is most commonly found in
describing
digital images. Traditional indexing has not allowed an effective way in describing
digital images. Digital images are now
a more common format when searching for
information.



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Example of user
-
generated tagging

To illustrate an example of use
r
-
generated tagging, we have used as an example of a
picture below
, which was taken by the author on a trip to Cairns in June 2008,
to
highlight how
user
-
generated tagging can be used in the organisation.


Figure
1
-

Photo taken by

David Laurence, June 2008

Note: Photo taken by author and used with permission


Waterfall, Cairns, millaa
-
millaa, Australia, environment, Atherton tablelands, Far
North Queensland, Queensland, nature


The words highlighted in bold are potential subjects t
hat could be assigned to this
particular picture. As
shown
a range of subjects or tags can be assigned to one
photograph.



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Benefits and drawbacks of user
-
generated tagging

The main benefit of user
-
generated tagging lies in the ability of the
end
-
user to
assign
their own tags to digital images which
was not the

case in more traditional forms of
controlled vocabulary.
It

allows the user to not be restricted in the number of tags that
they can place on one digital image as shown in the example.


However several researchers have highlighted
in

numerous articles that this method of
classification can seem ‘jumbled’ or ‘sloppy’. Errors such as spelling mistakes, personal
tags, misuse of single and plural forms are examples on the drawbacks of this p
articular
system (
Matusiak

2006).



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CONCLUSION

In conclusion, this report examined
the discipline of controlled vocabularies. The report
defined controlled vocabulary and
analysed

two areas of controlled vocabulary


taxonomy and ontology.

Definitions of
both were discussed and the benefits and
drawbacks of each system were
examined
.

The report then discussed
user
-
generated
tagging
also known as folksonomy. It

highlighted the differences between this and other
classification systems with an example shown.

The benefits and drawbacks of this
system were also discussed
.


T
his report was
undertaken on the understanding that no recommendations would be
made. However we advise, regardless whichever system the company decides, an
indexing policy should be implem
ented.
This will
allow standards to be created and
adhered to.



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David Laurence

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April 2009


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REFERENCE LIST

The following sources were used in the compilation of this report

Cumming, M. (2005). "Tomatoes are not the only fruit:

a rough guide to taxonomies, thesauri, ontologies and the like."

UK Cabinet office e
-
government unit (April 2005) pp 1
-
4



Garshol, L. M. (2004). "Metadata? Thesauri? Taxonomies? Topic Maps!

Making sense of it all."
Viewed 10 April 2009

<
http://www.ontopia.net/topicmaps/materials/tm
-
vs
-
thesauri.html
.>



Hoberman,S “Ontology and Taxonomy”

Information Management Magazine (May 2008)
p 8



Jenst. (2003). "What are
the differences between a vocabulary, a taxonomy, a thesaurus, an
ontology, and a meta
-
model?" Viewed 9 April, 2009

<
http://www.metamodel.com/article.php?story=20030115211223271
>



Kabel, S, de Hoog
R., Wielinga, BJ, Anjewierden, A, (2004).

"The Added Value of Task and Ontology
-
Based Markup for Information Retrieval."

Journal Of The American Society For Information Science And Technology

Volume
55

Issue 4 pp 348
-
362.



Matusiak, Krystyna K.

Towards user
-
centered indexing

in digital image collections



OCLC Systems & Services

International digital library perspectives

Volume 22 Number 4 pp 283


298



Rule, D “
Classification defined: taxonomies, ontologies

and folksonomies”
inCite
Volume 29 Issue 11 p 21



W3C Semantic Web “
W3C Semantic Web Frequently Asked Questions


<
http://www.w3.org/2001/sw/SW
-
FAQ

> V
iewed 16 April 2009