Taxonomists, Ontologists and SKOS, Oh My

In the XML world, especially academic circles such as Scientific, Technical and Medical Publishing (STM), classification of your content is a very important consideration. Researchers need to find material that is relevant to the topic of study, authors of scientific papers need to cite other work in the field and publishers often sell or license content by topic, classification or specialty.

More recently, RDF and the Semantic Web have upped the ante as a way of surfacing facts, and their meaning, that are buried in the content.  To be useful, the triples that constitute webs of semantic relations need to be consistent with an organizational system like SKOS or similar.

The art of describing classifications and their relationships to each other is the practice of the Taxonomist.  Or is that the Ontologist?  Doh!  Nearly everyone is a bit unsure what those terms are, what they mean, and how they’re different, or the same.  Sheesh!

Fear not.  The always informative and entertaining Kurt Cagel posted a helpful article yesterday on LinkedIn, titled Taxonomists vs. Ontologists: What's the Difference?.  It should clear up any lingering confusion.  And as is appropriate for the Internet, there are cat pictures.

Check it out, then impress your friends by knowing your taxonomies from your ontologies.