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SWC’s Taxonomy Experts take on first-time ENDORSE Conference

The European Data Conference on Reference Data and Semantics

April 1, 2021

Recently, two of Semantic Web Company’s star taxonomy experts joined the first ever ENDORSE conference to lead a live workshop that focused on enriching knowledge organization systems.

ENDORSE (more specifically known as The European Data Conference on Reference Data and Semantics) is organized by the Publications Office of the European Union and ISA² Programme. Given the growing demand for semantic and data management technologies, the conference works to “create an opportunity to link expertise to tackle current and future issues in the fields of interoperability and knowledge management.”

Originally planned as an in-person event for the previous year, the venue shifted to an online platform to accommodate the current situation brought on by Covid-19. While a setback in this regard, the online platform did allow for greater space for more participants to join the conference, whose registered number came to a whopping 650 participants in the end.

About our speakers

Thanks to the efforts of Heather Hedden and Helmut Nagy, who led the workshops, SWC was well represented in the topics of knowledge organization systems. A Data and Knowledge Engineer at SWC, Hedden has over 25 years of experience in taxonomy research and application. Similar can be said for COO Nagy, who has worked in knowledge management for over 20 years with professional consultancy and other notable roles.

According to speaker Hedden, along with the presentations and panels, the conference also supported a “networking platform” of sorts. More than 100 conference participants of 26 different nationalities joined the platform, with a similarly diverse portfolio of business interests. This platform allowed participants to be matched with others based on their business focuses, with topics ranging from data modelling to SMART cities. If someone’s focus was on European legislation, they could be matched to a fellow participant within that same focus to “send messages [and/or] schedule one-on-one video meetings with each other, as they identified others with similar interests,” says Hedden who participated in one of these meetings herself.

The workshop

While the networking platform did prove to be enriching for our speakers, Hedden and Nagy first came to ENDORSE to introduce the topic of knowledge organization systems. Utilized in many different ways, knowledge systems are great for retrieving and maintaining information. As a user of one of these systems, you can browse, search, filter, create content workflows, generate recommendations, etc. for your organization’s data. 

These varying capabilities are the functions found within an equally diverse set of knowledge organization systems. While there are many types of systems that even the average person is aware of (think of a dictionary, for example), some of the major ones used in an organization include:

  • taxonomies
  • thesauri
  • terminologies
  • semantic networks
  • ontologies

Much of these systems’ behavior can be defined by their ability to classify — that is how they can organize data into a controlled, recognizable schema. If we apply something like this to an enterprise, we might be able to build a taxonomy on the Human Resources department, whose schema would contain all the pertinent information of employees and their skills. Once in place, the taxonomy would prove to be useful because it would recognize “Developer” and “Programmer” as the same roles, and the person using the taxonomy could retrieve all the information relating to these words despite having only looked up one of them.  Read this blog post to learn more!

The takeaway

While many organizations already have some form of a basic classification system in place, they often lack an enterprise-wide taxonomy, have taxonomies that are out of date, or have taxonomies that are under-utilized. The point of Hedden and Nagy’s workshop was to focus on some basic methods organizations can use to get started in either building a new taxonomy or enhancing their existing knowledge organization systems.

Because knowledge organization systems connect users to content, they need to be designed to take into consideration the users’ needs, inputs and specific content. In order to illustrate this process, Hedden and Nagy gave live demos of PoolParty, which is adept at linking standards-based taxonomies to unique user content. Cardsorting is one of the interesting collaborative tools that users of PoolParty can take advantage of to start a taxonomy with their team. 

With PoolParty Semantic Suite, users can be sure that their data is being taken care of in an effective knowledge organization system. Read more about these knowledge systems in a free downloadable PDF of Hedden and Nagy’s presentation!



Angela DaSilva

Angela DaSilva

Content Writer

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