An introductory article regarding content taxonomy and metadata.
“Taxonomy” is a terribly overused term these days. Bob Boiko, in the book Content Management Bible, goes so far as to call it “trendy.” Specifically, taxonomy is a hierarchical structure for the classification or organization of data. Historically used by biologists to classify plants or animals according to a set of natural relationships, in content management and information architecture, we tend to leverage taxonomies as a tool for organizing content (For additional information, see Christina Wodtke’s interview with Samantha Bailey elsewhere on Boxes and Arrows).Metadata (data about data) describes an asset and provides us with a meaningful set of attributes that we can use to further classify or consume content. While much metadata is flat or one-dimensional in nature (e.g., size or weight), some of it is hierarchical (e.g., taxonomies), making the definition and distinction between metadata and taxonomy vague and fuzzy.