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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
If I follow the writing principle of bottom line and idea first then I would have to say Patrick Lambe's "Organising Knowledge: Taxonomies, Knowledge and Organisational Effectiveness" is a five-star publication. Using the four-point scale Study, Read, Skim, Bin as a guide to the effort that might be invested, this book definitely warrants a Study rating. So what's so good about the book?

Well judging by my margin scribbles and underlining lots! First it is an entertaining, coherent and easy read. Patrick's assertion that - "If taxonomies classify, describe and map knowledge domains, then taxonomy work is made up of the things we must do to achieve that outcome: listing, creating and modifying categories, standardising, mapping, representing, discovering native vocabularies and categories, negotiating common terms" (p. 11) - resonates with me and is an example of the practical flavour of the book. Similarly I found Patrick's taxonomy forms - lists, trees, hierarchies, poly-hierarchies, matrices, facets, and system maps - to be a useful classification and a guide to why some taxonomies fail and others succeed.

I must admit that I had never considered in any detail how our reasoning patterns impact on our taxonomies. Most of us reason by beginning in the middle and generalising upwards and differentiating downwards. It's an interesting insight which explains why so many tree structures don't work. I suspect we like tree structures because they are easy to understand and they at first impose order onto chaos.

I do think one or two longbows are drawn with some of the examples in the book - the Victoria Climbie child abuse discussion being a case in point. The archetype typology - a special type of taxonomy - is another. Despite this the examples serve to show in a practical way how a well designed taxonomy can help in knowledge discovery and knowledge articulation.

Perhaps one of the most interesting insights in the book is the notion of taxonomies as boundary objects. A well designed taxonomy can allow different groups of people to find common ground and therefore communicate. One example is communication between amateur ornithologists and professional zoologists. Another is communication between economists and health professionals through the International Classification of Diseases taxonomy.

Patrick signed my copy on the 14th of August 2007, and wrote the following comment on the front page - "For Graham in the hope you will find this useful!" Well I've skimmed the book more times than I can remember, I've studied it twice, and read it twice (both in a single sitting)! The book is very useful and should be on the shelf of anyone who professes to be a knowledge management practitioner. In my view it should also be mandatory reading for students of library science, knowledge management and information management. I'm certainly convinced that taxonomies matter!

Regards Graham
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon April 17, 2009
My two co-reviewers appear to have a vastly greater experience in this field, and I was pretty much flying blind when I plunked down $60+ USD for a paperback. The other reviewers have a pretty good opinion of this book, and many of the alternative books suggested did not get great reviews. However, the other reviewers sound like experts and I wasn't sure the book would be useful to me, a beginner trying to get a maximum amount of understanding of taxonomy for a minumum investment of time and money.

They were right about the value of Organising Knowledge. I don't want "Taxonomy for Dummies" and O. K. is not that book, but it CAN serve the same need. If you are new to the field, or even if you have been doing this work in your company for several years and want to know more of what your company's taxonomy-Jedi Knights are talking about, start here. (If you are an expert, read the other reviews and make your decision.)

It is becoming my business to set up wikis for people. Reading Organising Knowledge is helping me to think about how to create the basic structures, rather than starting with randomly-selected keywords and hoping everyone will think of the same descriptors.

This isn't light reading. However, it's only difficult in that the material is new to me. The writing is clear and I'm not having any trouble following, if my brain would only not go off on so many side trail along the lines of "Oh, I could do THAT for this client..." or "NOW I see what those other clients were talking about..."

So: from the newbie seats--good book.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on May 1, 2008
Patrick Lambe provides excellent insights and tips for anyone facing a project to design and implement an enterprise content management system. Through many thought-provoking examples, he makes it clear that a collection of unstructured data is only as good as the effort that went into its organization, and he demonstrates the critical need for collaborating with the content providers and consumers to understand their thought processes and expectations. Some of the examples include some very uncomfortable lessons about the dangers of badly conceived taxonomies. He also makes the subject very interesting by placing the art of taxonomy in its historical context, showing us how various dynamic individuals developed classification systems that are now widely deployed and have an impact on everyday life. This book is highly recommended to anyone interested in the implications of the enormous amount of digital information accumulating at an ever-increasing rate.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on May 25, 2011
One year earlier, I was appointed to a taxonomy development work, and we hired a consultant company to help us to it.
But 6 months later, when I purchased this book, (at that time, no comments are available on the amazon), I knew what we've get from the thousands dollars consulting is much less what I get from this book.

How I wish someone had published a comment before my project.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 21, 2013
This is a must read for anyone preparing to create a taxonomy. Very well written with many case studies to support the points and recommendations presented. This book has become the most flagged, dog-eared, underlined book in my library. Thank you Mr. Lambe for this excellent contribution to a challenging topic.
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on July 25, 2014
Does a good job of presenting theoretical and "big picture" information without staying chained to it--case studies and a somewhat informal tone balance these out with practical insights and advice. Good for most any stage of a taxonomy or knowledge/content/document management project.

Also, +1 for talking about spimes. ;)
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on November 22, 2010
This book is a must read for anyone that needs to organize documents and knowledge. It gives a complete view on what most of us do intuitively (not to well) when organizing and classifying. You finish the book with clear ideas to make your classifying work easier.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on October 27, 2009
An outstanding book on developing taxonomies for repositories, companies, and websites. Packed with useful information and well worth the time.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 28, 2013
A very detailed introduction to taxonomy. I'd liked to have finished it, but the material was very dense and a tough read. A little bit of humor may have enabled me to finish it. Otherwise, it was too dry to finish.
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