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Subject: Re: Define Taxonomy
From: "Carol E.B. Choksy, Ph.D., CRM, PMP" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Carol E.B. Choksy, Ph.D., CRM, PMP
Date:Mon, 4 Dec 2006 07:24:29 -0500

text/plain (26 lines)

Dear All:

"Taxonomy:  (in the context of ERM)  A systematic
way of organizing records.
The words can be in a straightforward list, in a hierarchy, or in any other systematic arrangement. By this definition,a hierarchic classification scheme is a taxonomy."

I have to disagree with this content from AIIM. What is a "straightforward list"? If I make a random list, is that a taxonomy? If I listed everything I did in a week, is that a taxonomy? A taxonomy is most expressly a satisfying explanation. What is satisfying about a list? Think about your shopping list. How do you make yours? I make mine by aisle at the grocery store so it is a map. My grocery list is my explanation to myself of how to do my shopping. The biological taxonomy is a way of explaining what is connected and why. When we put the Panda in the same category as a raccoon we have said something entirely different from when we put it in the same category as a bear. We fought the Civil War--in part--over our taxonomy of human beings.

A list has no explanatory power. It does not create wars. A random list does not "name the taxa." In other words, a list is not a "systematic arrangement" it is a collection of things that have a vague relationship, like a curio cabinet. 

Similarly, other systematic arrangements are not necessarily a taxonomy. A taxonomy is what your discipline says it is. In our discipline, a taxonomy is a hierarchical classification, normally made on an enterprise basis. It should be traceable back to the files and documents in a department or workgroup. So a departmental retention schedule or file plan is not a taxonomy if it does not have a basis in the enterprise. This we have know for more than a century.

Best wishes,

Carol E.B. Choksy, Ph.D., CRM, PMP
IRAD Strategic Consulting, Inc.

Adjunct Professor
School of Library and Information Science
Indiana University, Bloomington

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