Gartner Research

Classonomies: Taxonomies, Ontologies, and Folksonomies Demystified

Published: 17 January 2008

ID: G00203433

Analyst(s): Guy Creese


Taxonomies, ontologies, and folksonomies are starting to gain favor as a way to improve collaboration and information management. As disparate departments increasingly share information, it's crucial that they use a common vocabulary--otherwise they're just talking at one another, rather than with one another. This overview by Research Director Guy Creese discusses taxonomies, ontologies, and folksonomies, describes how they're interrelated, and offers recommendations on how to begin leveraging their power.

Table Of Contents



  • Defining the Terms
    • Classonomies: The Umbrella Term
    • Glossaries: Controlled Vocabularies and Thesauri
    • Org Charts: Taxonomies and Ontologies
    • Sticky Notes: Folksonomies
  • Why Now?
  • Classonomies Within the Larger Content Management Picture
  • Applying Classonomies
    • Content Management Systems
    • Translation Systems
    • Enterprise Search
    • Records Management
    • Social Software
  • The Yin and Yang of Classonomies
    • Professional vs. Corporate
    • Corporate vs. Outsiders
    • Corporate vs. Divisions/Departments
    • One vs. Many
    • Formal vs. Informal
    • Exclusivity vs. Inclusivity
    • Depth vs. Breadth
    • Term vs. Instantiation
  • Market Analysis
    • Market Sectors
    • Standards: RDF, RDF Schema, DAML+OIL, OWL, and ODM
    • Market Projections
  • Recommendations
    • Decide If a Corporate Classonomy Is Needed
    • If Needed, Start Developing One, But Expect to Develop Many
    • Get the Classonomy and Subject Matter Experts to Work Together
    • Make the Classonomies Earn Their Keep
    • Keep Working at It
    • Recognize That the Ultimate Rule Is to Do What Works

The Details

  • Five Ways to Order Information
  • The Tools: Glossaries, Org Charts, and Sticky Notes
    • Controlled Vocabulary
    • Thesaurus
    • The Differences Among Taxonomies, Ontologies, and Folksonomies
    • Taxonomies
    • Ontologies
    • Folksonomies
  • Three Levels of Ontologies
  • Glossary (Vocabulary) and Org Chart (Taxonomy) Examples
    • Controlled Vocabulary: Medical Subject Headings
    • Controlled Vocabulary:
    • Taxonomies: Books
    • Taxonomies: Economic Activity
    • Taxonomies: Medical Conditions and Treatment
  • Different Views of the Same World Means Different Taxonomies
    • Libraries: Dewey Decimal, Library of Congress, and UDC
    • Economic Activity: SIC, NAICS, ISIC, GICS, and ICB
  • The Semantic Web and Related Technologies
    • The Layer Cake Approach of the Semantic Web
    • Resource Description Framework
    • RDF Schema
    • Ontology Languages: DAML+OIL and OWL
    • Ontology Definition Metamodel



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