Taxonomy, Content Types & Metadata: Oh My!


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How to understand (and explain to your end users) the concepts of metadata and content types and then, how to build a SharePoint taxonomy.
(Let me know if you find this useful in your work.)

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  • Everyone knows the answer to this…
  • It’s “Data about Data” as Einstein proved all those years ago
  • Thanks for coming, we’re done now…This answer helps absolutely no-one – well, maybe Einstein
  • I’m not telling yet, but…It’s an iterative process – you won’t understand it right away, but you will circle in to understanding over time.
  • The sounds that these animals make are attributes that distinguish them from each other. The sound is NOT the animal, and does not replace the animal, but if I asked even a 3 year old, which one goes ‘quack’ they could point it out to me.So now, a more serious example…
  • How do you sort your CD’s?Artist? Title? Genre? Date? Cover Colour?You have to decide up front – and stick to it, because the objects are physical
  • What if the store was full of unlabeled tin cans? How could you tell which can had the corn?You would need to open every can to see if had what you wanted(Tin can example originally suggested by Serge Tremblay)
  • Now we don’t need to open each can, but they are all in a jumble and you have to pick up each can to check if has what you want.(Also, the fact that you may not know the language that the label was printed in could pose a problem)
  • Items are grouped by type (canned fruit, canned sauce, canned vegetables)Signs point you to the correct area so that you can quickly find what you need.BUT: Because the objects are physical, you need to pick a method and stick to itAND: Can cause duplication: Canned chilli’s may be in the veggie isle, but also in the ethnic food aisle
  • Data about dataYes, but not enough info Seth Maislin of Earley & Assoc. says it's the "Is-ness" of something:This 'is' a contract. That 'is' a pop album.For us it enables findability, policy and processFindability for locating the right documentsPolicy – records managementProcess – Status of a business process (e.g. Not started, In process, Complete, Approved, Archived)
  • Not really this, but let’s use these creatures to understand.
  • Swedish botanist, physician, and zoologist, who laid the foundations for the modern scheme of binomial nomenclature. He is known as the father of modern taxonomy
  • Review the animal kingdom taxonomy
  • Did you catch the subtle change here.The taxonomy is now of your ‘X’ drive.Which is your shared drive zoo!Let me zoom in
  • Here is where your file lives
  • Problem here is lack of governance – anyone can add any folder anywhere anytimeThis boils down to the ‘putability’ problem – I’ll search for a long time to find a doc, but not for long to see where to put it.
  • This uses the base metaphor that we live with every day.The concept of a “file” and a “file folder” as a way of storing digital data is a metaphor taken from the world of paper managementIt has become so ingrained, that we think of it as natural, but it’s not: It was invented in 1983 by Apple (wikipedia) [But they really stole it from Xerox]
  • All your files are stored in one folder and their names are completely meaninglessThis is like the unlabeled cans: You have to open each file to see what it contains
  • A bit of a better situationThe naming convention lets you find the file you need (but there’s no way to sort by year)Rely on users to follow the naming convention (religiously)
  • Now we’re in great shape!This is nicely structured and labeled, just like the supermarketBUT…
  • What a mess! Now, when you have to search for a document, you have to look in the ‘tree’ and also in all the other spots where the files could be.Another issue… If your boss needs you to find all ATT consumer files across all years, you have not alternative other than clicking all the parent folders open and drilling down to the documents that you need, one at a time.
  • There is a balancing act around finding and saving. The investment you make on one side, pays off (or costs you) on the other side.
  • On the findability side (searching or browsing) [Not a ‘real’ English word]If you really need that needle, you’ll look through a lot of haystacks
  • There is an essential asymmetry to putability [Also not a real English word]: (Except that I learned them from Bill English)You can give up fairly quickly on deciding where to save something – there is always a fast and easy way out….It’s called: I’ll just put it here – I’ll remember later where I left it. THIS IS A BIG LIE
  • I’m not Carl, but let’s talk about why this works.After all, it’s the same as a directory treeThe difference is governance
  • Is this too many to ask for?Do we force users to answer all these questions/enter all this data?
  • Instead of confusing people with the SharePoint interface, I use a familiar tool: ExcelUsing some simple macros, I am able to illustrate the power of filters and views.There’s no free lunch however: People now have to enter metadata.We can simplify this by defaulting values like “Date” to today and “Year” to current year.We can leverage content types as well
  • Explain metadata and then use this worksheet for ‘homework’
  • Think of them as different forms with slots to fill in.Two documents may have overlapping slots (or, metadata).It may make sense to store these two types of docs in the same library (HR Requests), but use content types to drive workflow, policy and prompt users only for the metadata that applies.
  • All columns (metadata) exist in the same list, even though the user is only prompted to fill-in the ones for the content type that they are using.
  • Content types cannot be used for security
  • What is this a picture of?With a lot of experience, training or imagination, you may figure something out – but the concept is ABSTRACT
  • This is something that people understand and agree on.It is concrete (no, not made of concrete – it’s marble)Visual tools can help make the abstract into the concrete
  • MindManager (from MindJet) is a tool that has changed the way I work. Here is a quick demo of how it works.
  • Using mind-mapping tools to build the taxonomy from the homeworkI use MindJet MindManager – and I like and highly recommend it.There are other tools that are less expensive such as X-Mind and freemind.
  • Did you get value out of this presentation?
  • Taxonomy, Content Types & Metadata: Oh My!

    1. 1. Produced by: Premier Partner: Platinum Partner: Gold Partner: Supported by:
    2. 2. Taxonomy, Content Types & Metadata. Oh my!Ruven Gotz – Navantis (Cananda)
    3. 3. It’s all about me… @ruveng Toronto Ruven Gotz
    4. 4. This is a Meta-Presentation• Two Goals and a Meta Goal: • Understand metadata • How it applies to taxonomy • How it applies to content types • Understand why it matters in SharePoint • Meta Goal • Educate you • Give you tools to educate YOUR stakeholders
    5. 5. The BIG question What is Metadata?
    6. 6. Data about data
    7. 7. Questions
    8. 8. The BIG question What is Metadata? I think I get it What is I think Oh! Now I see I get it Metadata? (Mostly)
    9. 9. To understand what are
    10. 10. We’ll use a
    11. 11. What does a cow say?
    12. 12. What does a chicken say?
    13. 13. What does a duck say?
    14. 14. What’s the difference?
    15. 15. What is the ‘content’?What are some attributes?• Artist: Prince• Genre: Pop/Rock• Year: 1984 Example from Yoav Lurie
    16. 16. Organizing Content
    17. 17. Another metaphor Adapted from the “pea soup” story by Serge Tremblay
    18. 18. Labels can help
    19. 19. Food taxonomy nirvana
    20. 20. So, what is metadata?
    21. 21. What is taxonomy? or this… Not this!
    22. 22. It’s this…
    23. 23. Carl Linnaeus (1751)
    24. 24. Taxonomy Animal Kingdom Kingdom Superclass Invertebrates Vertebrates Mammals Fish Amphibians Reptiles Birds Class Predators Primates Whales Rodents Order Squirrels Mice Porcupines Guinea Pigs Suborder Mice & Rats Hamsters and Voles Family
    25. 25. Animal KingdomThe bottom of this tree Invertebrates Vertebrates Mammals Fish Amphibians Reptiles Birds Predators Primates Whales Rodents Squirrels Mice Porcupines Guinea Pigs Hamsters and Mice & Rats Voles Real Hamsters Voles Gerbils Short-tailed Long-tailed dwarf hamsters dwarf hamsters Djungarian Roborovski dwarf Hamster hampsters
    26. 26. X:TaxonomyShared drive zoo Sales & Production Marketing Marketing Sales Web Design Newsletter Social Commercial Industrial Government Healthcare Labs Hospitals Clinics Mobile Private Public Large Medium Small Urban Rural Not University Associated
    27. 27. X:Taxonomy Sales & Production Marketing Marketing Sales Web Design Newsletter Social Commercial Industrial Government Healthcare Labs Hospitals Clinics Mobile Private Public Large Medium Small Urban Rural Not University Associated
    28. 28. We’ve all seen how well this works out…
    29. 29. X:TaxonomyShared drive zoo Sales & Production Marketing Marketing Sales Web Design Newsletter Social Major Commercial Industrial Government Healthcare Hospitals Labs Hospitals Clinics Mobile Colleges Private Public Big Small Large Medium Small Urban Rural Not University Associated
    30. 30. Moving this mess to SharePoint onlymakes it worse
    31. 31. SharePoint Sux! SharePoint is confusing! Why?
    32. 32. What is our base metaphor for files?
    33. 33. Folders on the Mac
    34. 34. What if we saw this?
    35. 35. Better…
    36. 36. Solve it with folders!
    37. 37. Now, you hire an intern to adddocuments
    38. 38. Finding vs. Saving
    39. 39. Findability
    40. 40. Putability
    41. 41. The #1 rule of SharePoint Except when it makes sense to do so Never use ever folders
    42. 42. When it makes sense… Permissions assigned per folder
    43. 43. SharePoint Taxonomy
    44. 44. SharePoint Taxonomy (Metadata)Customer Type Sector Size Location University• Lab • Private • Large • Urban • Yes• Hospital • Public • Medium • Rural • No• Clinic • Small• Mobile
    45. 45. Adding metadata (when uploading)
    46. 46. A SharePoint Simulation
    47. 47. Inventory worksheet
    48. 48. What is metadata?
    49. 49. What is taxonomy?
    50. 50. What are content types?
    51. 51. Drug Vacation Request ReimbursementName _________ Name _________Emp. # _________ Emp. # _________Date _________ Date _________Dates Requested: Drug Used:From __________ Name __________To: __________ Cost: $ _________ Manager ____ Manager ____ Approved Y/N Approved Y/N
    52. 52. Both content types in one list
    53. 53. Content types for: Workflow, Policy, Security
    54. 54. InventoryWorksheet
    55. 55. Mind Mapfrom InventoryWorksheet
    56. 56. Key Points to Take Home• Metadata takes a while to understand• Use of metaphors can help• Use of visual tools can help a LOT• Much more than technology, it’s governance that makes the difference• Folders are bad, except when they’re not
    57. 57. Did I meet my goals for you…• Do you have a better understanding of Metadata?• Do you understand why it matters in SharePoint?• Do you think you’ll be able to explain these concepts more easily to your stakeholders?
    58. 58. QuestionsSHARE The SharePoint Conference for Business Users
    59. 59. <-- The goods! Ruven Gotz – Navantis (Canada) @ruveng (twitter) May 2012