Tweaking ontologies

From: N. C a r r o l l (
Date: Sun Apr 29 2001 - 10:29:09 PDT

> "N. C a r r o l l" wrote:
> >
> > ... A Bay area
> > company recently paid a knowledge management consultant
> > for six months to discover that a) users use different keywords
> > from those doing the cataloging, and b) catalogers, when in
> > the position of searching, will use different keywords from
> > when they are cataloging. This has been written up at UCLA
> > Info Science department, in 1968 I believe.
> >
> That is a fascincating factoid. (However, information glut being
> what it is, the claim that one has "not done their homework"
> is losing much of its impact. If we all did our homework on this
> list, no would write anything. We'd all be reading, night and day!

Cross-training minimises problems like that. The next best
thing is probably what a lot of companies do nowadays; add
linguists, mathematicians, librarians, and such to the coder
tank, in the hope that naive concepts will be rooted out
as the prototypes make the rounds through the various
skill-sets. Takes a lot of time, though.

> When a user performs a search, let's say in a human-mediated
> eFAQ system, and they then click a button which says "not very
> helpful", I see that response going to an ontologist/librarian
> who may any combination of the following:
> a) Tell the user a better way to conduct the search.
> b) Catalog existing material in a way that allows it to be
> found.
> c) Add synonyms and their scopes to the ontology/topic map,
> so that previously catalogued material becomes available
> to the searcher.
> The last step, in particular, forms a bridge between the
> cataloging and accessing of material that effectively "renames
> the API" in light of common usage patterns.

Yep. As to "C", in ecommerce it would be lunacy to
build a search structure without a thesaurus. It's sort
of like telling a customer, "If you can't find it yourself,
you're just out of luck!"

For all that, I see very few e-commerce sites with
a thesaurus.


Nicholas Carroll

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