Faceted Classification Faceted Classification

Faceted Classification is a sophisticated alternative to traditional classification schemes and modern web directories which put one item in only one place. Each book in a library has one call number and one correct location on a certain shelf. Each CMS website in the DMOZ Open Directory Project is listed in just one category.

Faceted classifications are based on the Colon Classification scheme of Indian library scientist S.R. Ranganathan developed in the 1930's. Ranganathan created a set of properties or characteristics or attributes of any subject, ideally mutually exclusive (orthogonal) and exhaustive (complete), which means that any object being classified could be assigned one of these properties, which he called a facet.

For example, color, fabric, and size might be three facets to classify a shirt. Possible colon classifications would be red:cotton:small and green:polyester:large.

The outstanding advantage is that the user can decide which property is most important, and buiild a hierarchy starting with that facet. Most hierarchies (taxonomies, etc.) have a fixed arrangement of containers. A dynamic taxonomy can greatly strengthen navigation schemes, allowing visitors to arrange the website contents their way.

Faceted navigation schemes lie behind websites like www.wine.com, where you can arrange the wine hierarchy by type, region, and winery, or by winery, then region, etc.

William Denton has written a step-by-step how-to for putting a faceted classification on the web. He refers to the faceted classification of Content Management Systems at CMS Review where you can rearrange the classification by facets.

References:
KM Connection on Facets
How to Make a Faceted Classification, William Denton
A Simplified Model for Facet Analysis, Louise Spiteri, via AIfIA
A Bibliography on Facets for the Web
Use of Faceted Classification, Heidi Adkissin
Faceted Classification Mailing List
Facets In Your Future, Bob Doyle
XFML, eXchangeable Faceted Metadata Language, Peter van Dijck
Ranganathan

Broader Terms: Classification

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