September 2021

We're delighted to announce the next edition - our 4th - in the Bite-sized Taxonomy Boot Camp series. Taking place on Wednesday 10 November, Bite-sized Boot Camp will roll out a further 3 virtual sessions for taxonomists & knowledge pros everywhere. Topical tips, techniques, tools and case studies combine to deliver expert guidance for those organising information across any discipline or vertical. The full programme and tickets go live this week. Check back here.

March 2021

The first Bite-sized Taxonomy Boot Camp on 2 March 2021 was such a success that we ran out of Q&A time! So here, as promised, are the answers to the remaining questions following Health Education England's session: Content management in the time of Coronavirus. Our thanks to the session presenters, Emily Hopkins and Richard Price, for taking the time to complete the responses.

Assuming the terminology needs to be neutral, and relevant to all users (experts and the layperson), have you discovered any terms that have ‘positive’ or ‘negative’ connotations?

The majority of our users are healthcare professionals, although we would also include layperson terms. Thinking of terms as positive or negative wasn’t really a consideration when we were building this taxonomy, although if we were to find positive/negative terms we would ensure they were mapped to a ‘correct’ or ‘official’ term.

Did the search logs provide insight into the mental health of NHS staff?

They probably don’t provide a reliable insight, as we were only looking at search logs for e-learning materials rather that other more formal sources of support for mental health, so wouldn’t be a true picture and probably a small number of searches relating to mental health. The purpose of including health and wellbeing terms was as a reminder that the materials exist rather than this resource being the sole source of mental health support for staff. At the time we were building this (at the early days of the pandemic), mental health of staff was less of an issue. I suspect if we reviewed the search logs now, they would paint a different picture.

What made you decide on PoolParty, was there a particular tool that it had that worked for you, or is it already used elsewhere in the NHS?

PoolParty is the tool we use already for managing the taxonomies for the HEE Learning Hub system so we were working with what we already had. It worked well for adding in new terms, allowing us to edit and link terms and to link different taxonomies, so it certainly does what we needed. In addition, we ran an open procurement in 2019 to choose a taxonomy management tool and supplier. PoolParty was the product that best met our specification at the time and when we re-tendered in January 2021 that was still the case.

I am interested in your pragmatic approach to synonyms. Is it right to characterise it as prioritising users being able to find what they need, rather than creating a strictly true set of synonyms? In the future would you go down a similar pragmatic route or try to achieve a more accurate set of synonyms? 

I suppose when we say we were pragmatic about the synonyms, we included things that would have strictly been broader/narrower or related terms, rather than true synonyms (Coronavirus, COVID-19), or making an extra effort to include lots of misspellings and variant spellings! For other terms within the taxonomy we were more strict about things being correctly distinguished as broader/narrower terms. Ultimately the taxonomy was supporting user search and we knew users searching “coronavirus” or “covid” were looking for materials on the same topic.

I suspect in the longer term we can review this along with search logs and user feedback to see if it needs adjusting to be more precise.

How often are you planning on updating your taxonomy - regular updates or as and when?

We’re still developing the overall project but we would aim for regular updates.  We regularly make ad hoc changes as required based on learner feedback.

Do you envision this taxonomy being transferable for other health issues? Or is it specific to Covid?

I think we covered some of this in a ‘live’ answer too, but yes there are other health issues it can be applied to, and many of the terms (for example, those on job roles or demographics) are of much broader relevance and will probably be used for other aspects of the Learning Hub materials.

Did you use medical terminology or layman's terms so that it is accessible to a wider audience?

The materials are for health professionals so we focus on medical terminology, although layman’s terms are included as well as alternative terms. We would want it to be as accessible as possible, so if you type in a layman’s term into the search it should map to the medical term.

February 2021

How to avoid 'dad dancing'

Less than two weeks to go until the first ever virtual Bite-sized Taxonomy Boot Camp, and we've just caught up with our Keynote speaker, BBC Data Architect Jo Kent. In this quick Q&A, Jo tells us about the challenges and learnings from the Corporation's recent social media taxonomy project. Find out more at her session, What's Up Doc? Using a taxonomy to turn health news into cartoons on 2 March, starting at 14.00 GMT/ 15.00 CET/ 09.00 EST.

Why did you embark on your project?
We wanted to make sure we were reaching younger people, particularly women, with important health information.

What was the single biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?
Understanding the Instagram mindset, what makes a good Instagram post, what are people looking for there? Thankfully we have an excellent team of social media editors who were able to explain it to us and take us through the process.

Greatest learning from the project?
Insight into social media consumption and younger audiences, how to join in without it looking ‘like dad dancing’.

And biggest mistake?
Assuming we knew what we were doing/what would work with young people/in this format.

Single piece of advice you’d give to someone embarking on a similar task
Talk to your audience and people who work with them first, don’t assume you know what will work.

January 2021

Bite-sized Taxonomy Boot Camp - 2 March 2021
Delighted to continue our conversations with the global taxonomy community through the launch of Bite-sized Taxonomy Boot Camp, a series of live quality learning events for taxonomists, knowledge managers and other info pros. Until we can get together again in person, join us at Bite-sized Boot Camp, kicking off on 2 March 2021 with two real-world taxonomy case studies, and a knowledge graph session.
Speakers at Bite-sized Boot Camp

    November 2020

    Boot Camp's webinar - taxonomy reading list
    Many of you joined us in October for Boot Camp's first-ever virtual session, a lively and energetic discussion on the future for our roles as taxonomists and information specialists. Our panellists got together after the webinar and came up with the following list of articles, resources, and further reading designed to support you in your work:

    Racial bias in AI 
    2005 article by Maewyn Cumming (then of the Cabinet Office’s e-Government Unit) - 'Tomatoes are not the only fruit' - introduction to the basic concepts of taxonomies, thesauri etc:  
    Dave Snowden on Cynefin and ontologies and trying to impose order on random systems: 
    Don't forget Boot Camp's sister events on 16-19 November! 
    Podcast of BBC Word of Mouth show on how the NHS chooses language on its website and in 
    Archive of ISKO UK events, including links to slides:
    The ANSI/NISO standard for controlled vocabularies: 
    Enterprise Knowledge Graph Foundation website has links to best practices, maturity models and more:
    Book written by the brilliant Caroline Criado-Perez on the gaps in data and design that impact the lives of women: 
    Ali Shiri’s book Powering Search is used in Canada as a textbook for thesaurus and taxonomy construction courses:
    Caitlin O'Connor and James Owen Weatherall “The Misinformation Age, How false beliefs spread”:

    - ends -

    October 2020
    An important announcement from London’s Taxonomy Boot Camp

    The pace of the continuing global health crisis makes it difficult for us to determine how many of our international delegates and speakers will be able to travel to London and get together face-to-face.

    For this reason, we are delighted to announced that London's Taxonomy Boot Camp will be a virtual conference, taking place online on 2 & 3 March 2021 (workshops 1 March), making it possible for you to join us from wherever you are in the world.
    Our virtual conference programme will be announced in November 2020, built from the interesting stories submitted by so many of you during 2020. Reserve your personal copy of the programme here.