When working with content and trying to insure its
usefulness and discoverability, we often apply taxonomies.

A funny thing happened today.

I was reading the 15 March 2007 issue of Nature which focused on Carl Linnaeus,
the father of taxonomy.

According to one article, Linnaeus
in the information age
, “It was Carl Linnaeus who realized that, to
understand anything in science, things have to have a name that is recognized
and is universal…”

It suddenly hit me that this term I use almost
daily (taxonomy) was born to classify something far different than content
creation and delivery.

I knew that.

I remember seventh grade science.

It was just so far back I had forgotten.

What’s interesting is that many of the same
debates scientists have about defining species, sub-species, and distinct
populations also occur when implementation teams define content data types and relationships!

What is the point of differentiation between a species
and a subspecies? How much
differentiation is enough? Is it
observable differentiation, genetic differentiation, or both? Is it related to form or function?

In medical taxonomy, when is a disease a disease
and not a symptom? Can something be both
a disease and a symptom?

Do I classify terms based on what they mean or how
I use them?

And there’s one more similarity:

Whether taxonomy is being used to classify
content or species, the rules only take you so far. At the edges it’s more of an art than a