Working on the Problems of Information Overload

Our colleagues at Factiva have decided to start their own blog, Let's Talk Knowledge - congrats gang! Might I humbly say that they were inspired by Synaptica Central, and thank YOU, our readers, for helping make this enough of a success as to inspire others here at Dow Jones!

Ken kicks off this new endeavor with some interesting thoughts on "Information Overload." The problem, he posits, is not that we have too much information, but have not invested enough in the tools to manage and analyze the information. IT investments have focused on creating, storing and distributing information (and, I would argue, retrieving it), but NOT in how we analyze or synthesize it. As Daniela and I have argued here on Synaptica Central in posts on data visualization and our Semantic Webinar, that is truly an area that needs work!

Let's be clear though: it's not about the latest widgets! It's not about the pretty, sparkling thing that just flashed in the browser window! It's about data that can be used and re-used in any form - be it sparkly, conservative, mobile or consumed by machines. Putting time and effort into crafting the models for this data can reduce confusion, reduce time spent towards rules-writing or custom query building, and allow a greater diversity in a product portfolio from the same data set: not just in delivery channels, but in customer focused channels as well. Employees are more productive, prouder of their work and motivated to innovate. Customers get what they need - they reduce information overload as well as relevancy overload - and are much happier and more loyal for it.

We're working hard here at Dow Jones to integrate and evolve our data models to full take advantage of the semantic web. Taxonomies and thesauri are becoming ontologies; lightweight ontologies are being transformed to take advantage of the full power of RDF, OWL and SKOS. Welcome to the blogosphere Ken, thanks for your thoughts, and we look forward to continuing to innovate with you and your team!

Why Taxonomy Matters to Sales Organizations

Here within the Dow Jones Enterprise Media group we deal with almost every kind of enterprise employee catering to their specific information delivery and management needs. From the PR Communications teams who are monitoring what people are saying about their brands across various mediums; Sales and Marketing that need to keep on top of their clients, competitors and industries; Researchers and Knowledge Managers who need depth and breath for their research and of course Investment Bankers and Traders who rely on timely and accurate content. These are just a few of them and if you are not aware of all the diverse tools and solutions we offer, our new Dow Jones Solutions site now gives you a comprehensive look by different roles, business needs and products.

Lucky for us in the Synaptica and Taxonomy Services team, we typically get to work across all different types of clients whose needs can vary drastically specifically on how they are leveraging controlled vocabularies. In future posts, I will be highlighting some of those other segments but for this post i am going to highlight "Why Taxonomy Matters" to Sales Professionals and Relationship Managers.

Have you ever tried to have a conversation about taxonomy with a sales or sales operation person in your company? Well if the conversation didn't turn to taxidermy you are probably lucky! So here are some things you can bring up next time you are in a meeting with your Sales teams and are trying to convince them that Taxonomy Matters to them- try these on for size:

Product Alignment – To better target the right customer, a taxonomy solution provides the backbone to build a faster pipeline

Territory Alignment – Segmenting companies based on region, industry, company size as well as other available categories will increase the likelihood to find the right audience

Field Sales – Combining the accurate information from product and territory alignment with the proper event triggers, sales forces will be able to pinpoint when to discuss a particular product to a potential customer

Want some more use cases for why taxonomy matters to sales? contact us or use the contact form from this blog.

Taxonomy and SharePoint : Exercises and Video From Session

Last night we conducted our Taxonomy and SharePoint a Powerful combination session for our clients in Asia Pacific . The first time we did this session was at the SLA (Special Library Conference) Annual Conference with a sold out Tech Zone we conducted . Then last September we did a webinar version that was very well attended and received great feedback. The feedback and requests for more sessions have been so great that this June at SLA, I will be doing another advanced on site session on the topic.

Based on feedback from our colleagues in Asia Pacific that SharePoint is taking off in their region which has prompted a lot of questions on taxonomy, we coordinated another live session last night specifically for that local audience with my colleague K Biju.

We are now pleased to also provide you with a recorded version of the learning session (view full screen below). These are the live exercises that i went through during yesterdays webinar as well as the download sheet of the exercises we recommend you download and follow along to learn about how to implement taxonomies in SharePoint in your own environment.

We hope you find this video and exercises useful and look forward to your feedback. Please feel free to leave you comments below or contact me at

PLEASE: view in full screen by clicking full screen button below.

Dow Jones Webinar Taxonomy and SharePoint - A Powerful Combination : Asia Pacific

Last fall our Taxonomy Services group conducted a very successful Webinar focused on Taxonomy and SharePoint. Based on requests from our customers, next week we are conducting a similar session for our customers in Asia Pacific. Much like what my North American and European colleagues share with me about their regions, SharePoint adoption seems to have reached a tipping point in Asia Pacific and thus, this session will be timely and very relevant to our Asia Pacific customers.

So if you are located in the Asia Pacific region and would like an introduction to Dow Jones’ taxonomy services and a better understanding of the use and benefits of taxonomies within SharePoint, you can attend our upcoming Webinar. This practical session will demonstrate ways in which you can combine the simplicity of Sharepoint and richness of taxonomy to solve your complex information challenges.

During this session you will learn some of the basic ways to manage controlled vocabularies using standard out of the box features that you can use immediately as well as learn about our Synaptica integration into SharePoint .

Date: Wednesday 25th March

Time: 10.00am Singapore, Hong Kong

11.00am Japan
1.00pm Sydney
2.00pm New Zealand

We welcome everyone who has implemented or is looking to implement a SharePoint solution or in fact anyone who is keen on this subject to join us by registering for this session by sending an email to

I look forward to 'seeing' you there!

Semantic Webinar: Part 1 Discover : The Attendees

Over 1,300 people registered for Part 1 of the Semantic Web Webinar Series: Discover the Semantic Web and both Christine Connors and myself were delighted with the attendance and the feedback we received!

Like Christine explained during our introduction, as attendee registrations were coming through we regularly reviewed the list, wanting to make sure that we were writing for our actual audience. What we found were strong numbers in three types of business role in particular – and happily for us, the three categories we most wanted to engage as part of this series as described below.

To further validate the attendees and get a feeling for where our enterprise customers are, during the webinar the first poll that we conducted was a simple one to record where attendees were in regards to their experience with semantic web. The following results are the aggregate of the two sessions:

When you think about Semantic Web, what is the first thought that pops into your head?
61.2 % > I am new to the Semantic Web and Interested in Learning More
26.4% > I am currently knowledgeable on the Semantic Web and would like to expand this knowledge
12.4% > I am currently involved in Semantics-related project in my company

Being that part one of the series was titled DIscover, the target level of expertise was perfect!

Looking through the final list of registered attendees, I took their titles and made the following Wordle to provide a visualization of the titles of the attendees. The word 'Manager' certainly appeared a lot (many times with additional information like "Manager of Information Center") as well as Director hence the larger presence of those terms, but here is what it looks like:

webinar attendees

The three categories we most wanted to engage as part of this series were the following categories and the majority of the attendees could be bucketed into them:

Library and Information Science Professionals
We had a good number of folks joining with library and information science backgrounds. Christine and I share that background, and Dow Jones is a great supporter of info pros . We believe that Librarians have a critical role to play in the future of the semantic web. The ability to provide access to comprehensive, annotated, carefully curated data in the highly collaborative environment that is the web has never been more vital. We can’t think of a profession more suited to the task. Nor can we think of anyone in our semweb social network who doesn’t love librarians!

Information Architects
Next had information architects – user experience designers, interaction designers, taxonomists – Big IA, Little IA – however you choose to define them people who are passionate about delivering easy to use interfaces between humans and information. And the bottom line? WE NEED YOU! The semantic web presents a new paradigm for data and tools. We need creative, practical people to think about new patterns for interacting with data on the web.

Business Champions
Finally, we had the business champions – executives, analysts, program managers. You may have heard that the semantic web is a solution in search of a problem. And as we will be covering in this Series of webinars, the semantic web is a potential solution for existing problems. We’ve seen this shift before: we didn’t need email – we had fax machines to move documents quickly while maintaining a paper trail. But we are willing to bet that you wouldn’t like it if they took away your inbox (well, permanently anyway!). Business Champions are doing their organizations a disservice if they simply dismiss a semantic solution. As we discussed in the webinar, put in in the mix of options to consider; occasionally it won’t yet work, sometimes it will be a stretch, but often it will be a perfect fit.

Missed Part 1: Discover? The Slide deck is embedded below and the recorded Webinar is also available on demand .

What's next?

We are preparing for Part II [registration info coming soon]-

Send us your requirements! Your use cases! Your challenges! We’re ready and waiting!

All Posts related to this 3 part series are available under the Semantic Web Webinar Series Topic of Interest.

A Map for the Semantic Web

A very interesting Flickr image came across my desktop this morning. It's a cool visual posted by Steve Jurvetson showing many of the different parts of the semantic web. I missed it the first time around, but the tiny copyright statement at the bottom of the original size indicates Tim Berners-Lee as the IP holder. Should be especially interesting to Tolkien fans! Mat to the Semantic Web

If you're interested in learning more about the semantic web, this is an interesting place to start - especially if you are a visual thinker. Do some searching on the topics mapped out here - Vannevar Bush, Logic (First and Second order logic), protocols and markup languages, RDF, OWL, GRDDL - whatever strikes your fancy. Let me know what you think!

Map to the Semantic Web on Flickr

Top 10 Reasons the Semantic Web is A Lot Like Love

This post is one day late since yesterday was Valentines Day- but nonetheless an entertaining one that i had to share because not only is it clever, i think it also has a lot of truths in it that outline some of the current challenges that the Semantic Web community is working with. Via Scott Brinker's "Chief Marketing Technologist Blog, Top 10 reasons the semantic web is a lot like love":

10. It means different things to different people.

9. Those in it can bore everyone else to death talking about it.

8. Cynics insist there's no such thing.

7. It's straightforward in theory, messy in practice.

6. A few misinterpreted words can really screw things up.

5. You can invest a lot and not get any return.

4. Some people claim it, but don't really have it.

3. Some people have it, but don't want to disclose it.

2. The more people involved, the more complicated it gets.

1. When it works, beautiful relationships are established.

Looks like Brinker will be giving a talk on semantic marketing and moderating a roundtable on semantic advertising at the 2009 Semantic Technology Conference, on June 14-18 in San Jose- so we look forward to meeting him there!

Powerhouse Museum

As promised during the webinar, the correct link for the museum! You can search and browse a portion of the collection held in the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, Australia. Browse around! Search, read, zoom - add tags! This is a site at which to have fun, learn new things, spark new thoughts.

View of Low Waterfall Over Rocks The team at the museum have made great use of readily available technologies and user generated content to augment the records and formal taxonomies that existed at the museum. Sites such as Flickr, tools such as OpenSearch, and licensing and use models from Creative Commons are combined to provide access to the data by as wide a variety of users as possible - users who become potential visitors; potential patrons. The design and interaction models are simple and elegant; the search and browse mechanisms are powerful; the images and image manipulation tools allow you to see great detail and experience the pieces wonderfully from afar.

If you are so inclined, I highly recommend you read through the "About" tab, and follow the links from there to the papers and blogs about how they've built the site. It's an interesting read, and a great way to be inspired - yet again - by those serving in institutions that preserve and promote our global heritage.

View of Low Waterfall Over Rocks, Powerhouse Museum Collection, The Commons on Flickr

Notes from A Session on Taxonomy Development and Digital Projects

20 degrees, light snow, 8:00 on a Sunday morning….and I’m about to do a presentation and hopefully lead a discussion on taxonomy development and digital projects for the Networked Resources and Metadata Interest Group at the ALA Midwinter conference . As I entered the area, there was only one other person and I thought that perhaps my worst fears had come true – that only the group chair and I would be present! Soon however, additional people began to arrive and by the time we wrapped up the presentation and discussion there were about 40 people present. My presentation covered definitions and examples of controlled vocabularies, from simple lists up to and including ontologies. Examples and pros and cons of each type were presented and discussed. The uses of controlled vocabularies in search and navigation were also presented and discussed. The presentation concluded with more in depth information on term structure, term relationships, notation and other general considerations when developing taxonomies and controlled vocabularies. The slide deck I used is embedded below and it is also available from the ALA conference wiki .

Following the presentation we had about a 30 minute discussion on aspects of the presentation as well as how we use and develop controlled vocabularies for clients in the Dow Jones Taxonomy Services group. There was a good discussion on the differences in the way libraries use vocabularies and do vocabulary development and the way commercial enterprises use controlled vocabularies and taxonomies. Thanks to all the attendees for your participation! please contact me with questions at

Upcoming Webinar: Part 1 Discover the Semantic Web

Please join us for Part 1 of a 3 part Webinar titled Discover the Semantic Web.

Date : Thursday, February 12, 2009
Times: 10:00 a.m.EST/ 7amPST OR 2:00 p.m. EST / 11am PST
Duration: 60 minutes

This webinar will focus on how organizations consume, digest, and share news and information. What we are seeing in the corporate space is that the Semantic Web is no longer 'ahead of its time' and therefore it has the potential to rapidly change how your organization manages, delivers, consumes, shares and produces content.

During Part I of this series you can learn how Semantic Web Technologies enable you to:

* Re-use valuable information to save costs in today's budget-cutting environment
* Facilitate easier collaboration and sharing of critical information across your business
* Increase search relevancy and surface the most valuable information needed to remain competitive

Christine Connors and myself will be conducting this free webinar and we welcome everyone who is interested in the subject to join us.

Who are we?

Christine Connors is the global director, semantic technology solutions for the Enterprise Media Group at Dow Jones and Company. In this position, she manages a worldwide team that is responsible for the development of taxonomies and metadata that are used to add value to Dow Jones news and financial information products, and a US-based team of software developers who support the Synaptica® software application. She also supports Dow Jones consulting practices, based in the Americas, Europe and Asia, which deliver end-to-end information access solutions based on taxonomy, metadata and semantic technologies.
You can learn more about Christine Connors or you can read some of her other blog posts on Synaptica Central .

I am the business development manager responsible for Dow Jones Taxonomy Services and Synaptica here at Dow Jones. I work with both small and large companies to deploy information strategies, including helping customers develop and manage their controlled vocabularies- from developing strategies and sharing best practices to doing custom taxonomy development.

More about me here or you can read some of my other blog posts on Synaptica Central or on my personal blog .