• From a thesaurus standard to a general knowledge organization standard?!

      Kless, Daniel; Tudhope, Douglas S. (Networked Knowledge Organization Systems and Services (NKOS), 2007-09)
      It is more than 30 years ago that the guidelines ISO 2788 and 5964 were developed for the design of thesauri â basically to meet the demands of bibliographic databases and libraries. The last revision of the standards dates around 20 years back. Information technology has changed the usage of thesauri â a development that has motivated many changes in BS 8723, the first successor of ISO 2788 and 5964. Not only has the world of thesauri and libraries matured. Ever since there have been defined a variety of structured vocabularies, thesauri being just one of them: ontologies, taxonomies, classification schemes, topic maps â just to name some of them. For these types of vocabularies there hardly exist rules for the construction of the vocabulary content comparable to those for thesauri. There are standards for the formal description of some vocabulary types at most, e.g. SKOS, Topic Maps, RDF. The guidelines in Parts 1 and 2 of BS 8723 and its predecessors are, unfortunately, not simply applicable on vocabularies other than thesauri. The degree to which this is reasonable has not been analysed. Thus, applications using structured vocabularies other than thesauri lack guidance for the construction of the vocabulary content. The developments in BS 8723 â particularly those in the forthcoming Part 3, "Vocabularies other than thesauri" â try to catch up that knowledge gap. However, these vocabulary types are treated in much less detail than thesauri. Part 3 seems rather a detour from thesauri than a standard for other vocabularies. BS 8723 will basically remain a thesaurus standard, particularly in terms of its rules for construction. The further development of BS 8723 as an ISO standard (ISO 25964) is a chance to continue the transformation of a once thesaurus-only standard to a truly general knowledge organization standard. The most important reasons that encourage such strategy are: - While some of the rules from the thesaurus standard will have to be modified, a significant number of rules can be expected to apply directly to other types of structured vocabularies. So it makes sense to keep them in a single standard. - It is easier to develop rules for different structured vocabularies if being put in contrast to thesauri. The thesaurus standards are based on decades of extensive experience and include also knowledge about "what is relevant to cover". - It is highly useful to give general guidance in choosing the right type of structured vocabulary before the structured vocabularies are detailed. - Bringing together various disciplines avoids the reinvention of knowledge and strengthens "knowledge structuring" as a professional discipline. - A higher differentiation of knowledge structures / vocabularies can be expected resulting in more efficient and purpose-oriented development of vocabularies. The resulting and certainly greatest benefit from a true "multi-vocabulary" standard is the interest of industry and many other disciplines than library science. Thus, the relevance of the standard will be increased. Examples for potential application areas of a common standard are: - Skill catalogs in competence management - Visualizations of the organizational structure - The directory structures in computer file systems (particularly shared folders) - Categorizations (typology) of files in a Document Management System - Description of knowledge assets in knowledge management tools - Categorization systems (typology) of music or picture archives - Knowledge maps - Corporate Encyclopaedias - Vocabularies for search expansion in search engines - The navigation structure, labelling system and the metadata on web sites - The Table of content and / or the index of a book or complex document