The Power of Facets

(Originally posted on the XFML Yahoo! Group.)

The true power of faceted metadata, imho, is that you can triangulate on resources by searching with terms from multiple facets.

Let’s assume I have a thesaurus of communication disorders. One facet might be “Disorders”. By picking a term within Disorders, say ‘Dysphagia’, I can identify resoruces related to that particular disorder. However, what if I was only interested in that disorder as it affects newborn children? I could use an “Age” facet and add the ‘Newborn’ term from that facet to my search criteria. That will then help me narrow further. Let’s add a “Geography” facet and select ‘North America’. Now we have results for ‘Newborns’ in ‘North America’ that have ‘Dysphagia’. This requires accurate indexing of material to be effective.

That is what I think the biggest advantage of faceted metadata rather than just a list of keywords. The Flamenco project is a good example of how it might look in a deployed web site.

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