PhillyCHI August Meeting – Taxonomy: Shoulders to Stand On

“Taxonomy: Shoulders to Stand On”
Date: Thursday, August 23, 2007
Time: 6:00 pm – 8:30 pm
* Meet & greet from 6:00 pm – 6:30 pm *
Location: Berger Auditorium, Skirkanich Hall, University of Pennsylvania
210 South 33rd Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104
RSVP (not necessary, but nice):

For this month’s PhillyCHI meeting, we’ve assembled a panel to discuss a foundational topic: taxonomy.

Most of us know that taxonomy has something to do with organizing things. We hear it occasionally during meetings or when speaking to certain system specialists who contribute to our projects.

Few of us know, however, that taxonomy is the practice of classification, which originally began as a science devoted to the classification of living organisms. And that over time, taxonomy has become known as the classification of just about anything and everything.

Even fewer of us get down into the weeds and do the work that goes beyond simple classification that makes today’s information systems work: meta data, facets, controlled vocabulary, thesauri, synonym maps, ontologies, tagging…

What’s troubling about this divide between those that know about taxonomy and those that don’t is the very importance of taxonomy. For many of us, our waking hours are spent creating applications, websites, and interactive products that could not function without well-structured, carefully crafted information structures.

This month’s PhillyCHI meeting will explore in practical and tangible terms the specific ways taxonomy is important to the work we do. We will discuss the design, implementation, and governance of taxonomies by examining four real-world case studies:

  • a user-centric catalog for a large e-commerce site and its impact on the user experience
  • a content-heavy non-profit information site
  • a system processing data through controlled vocabularies and thesauri
  • a consumer-driven search engine

Whether you are a librarian, a designer or developer facing ever-increasingly complex information structures, or a product manager tasked with getting the client on board with investing in meta data, you’ll find interest in this meeting’s discussion. Plenty of time will be reserved at the end of the meeting for discussion, so bring your tough questions!

Panel Participants

Dave Cooksey, GSI Commerce, Inc

Dave is an Information Architect who works to ensure usability and findability a place at the table during the design & development of e-commerce sites. He currently focuses on taxonomy & faceted search/navigation, user research techniques, usability practices, and how to bring business & design closer.

Emily Culbertson, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

As web managing director at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Emily oversees user experience and information architecture. Previously, she has managed health information Web projects for pharmaceutical and consumer products clients at I-SITE and at the University of Pennsylvania Health System.

John Ferrara, Vanguard

John is an Information Architect and human-computer interface practitioner responsible for structure, information design, and interface usability at Vanguard. He is experienced in design and administration of a variety of evaluation methods including: user testing, heuristic evaluation, cognitive walkthrough, surveys, and quantitative methods.

Julia Remick, Yellow Book USA

Julia is an Information Scientist within the Internet operations of Yellow Book USA, working primarily to ensure the integrity of their website’s taxonomy and to maintain its cohesion with the current search logic. She examines site metrics to determine keyword frequencies and search trends, forecasts how the development of new logic will interact with the present structure of the taxonomy, and is currently exploring new tools to expand and enhance the performance of the current taxonomy.