Let There Be Taxonomy!

You may not know it, but taxonomy is an integral part of your online life. Taxonomy is a fancy word that simply means how content management systems classify, organize, and display content.

Adaptistration People 072For example, here at Adaptation you’ll find the two most common types of taxonomy: categories and tags. The latter is used primarily to associate a specific organization with posts; in turn, this makes it easier for you to find articles written about the Nashville Symphony or the American Federation of Musicians. The former typically encompasses topics like negotiations, marketing, or governance.

Over at ArtsHacker, there’s a similar scheme in place except in addition to garden variety categories (which function like an index) and tags (which function like a glossary), you’ll encounter a few additional custom taxonomies: type and series.

Type articles are divided into original and aggregated content. The former is self-evident with the latter comprised of articles pointing to useful resources elsewhere and how they connect with arts management.

The series taxonomy was recently launched to make it easier for readers to find all of the articles associated with ArtsHacker’s growing catalog of related content. For example, there are a number of articles that reference Instagram but there are three special articles written explicitly as a guide on how arts organizations can better understand and develop an effective Instagram strategy. The new series taxonomy means you can now find every article in that collection written by Sarah Marczynski and Jonathan Eifert via a single URL.

Similarly, there’s a series for Jason Heath’s recently completed trio of Podcasting articles which provides everything arts orgs and individual artist entrepreneurs need to know about podcasting hardware, software, and distribution.

All of this expanded taxonomy means some really cool things are in store for a greatly enhanced navigation structure. Stay tuned…

As for Adaptistration, I’ll be rolling out the very same series taxonomy over the next few months. Once complete, it will make it even easier to find something such as all of the articles about a specific orchestra’s labor dispute, or the Nashville Symphony’s capital campaign project.

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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2 thoughts on “Let There Be Taxonomy!

  1. I’ve been playing with custom taxonomies in some of my side projects, but I always feel bad about the older, less well-planned projects that don’t have them. For something like ArtsHacker, I imagine you had these taxonomies in place at launch.

    Do you have a strategy for adding taxonomies to an existing database?

  2. Excellent question. For AH, it won’t be difficult at all to retroactively assign new taxonomy to existing posts. Having said that, it really does come down to Seven P’s style organization to avoid the unpleasant task of weeding through a bunch of articles or writing DB scripts to retroactively assign (and hope it catches everything).

    For something like Adaptistration (which at the time I’m writing this has 3293 posts), retroactive assignment on an automated scale is pretty much a wash. As such, I’ll be going through manually and assigning.

    If you’re using WordPress, one thing I do recommend is registering the new custom taxonomy so that you can apply if via the mass edit tool on the post index admin panel.

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