Metadata, also known as...

Metadata, also known as...

By Mark Chillingworth

The unobtrusive and unassuming field of taxonomy has had another weapon added to its armoury with the launch of the aka application from Australian consulting firm Synercon.

aka (short for also known as) is designed to sit on top of a records management system and automatically build a classification scheme for records. Synercon pitches the tool as the knowledge management side to your records management.

The NSW-based management consultancy originally built the application to satisfy its own needs as part of its knowledge management practice. As a consultancy, the company has always espoused the need to classify everything to manage information.

"It is ludicrous that information on company Web sites is classified using different schema to that used in the records and document management system. What is the point of having one information system using Swahili while another is using Taiwanese? The users are totally confused," said Conni Christensen, principal consultant at Synercon. Launched at the IIM conference in Brisbane, aka has already been in use by Synercon consultants since January. It was the consultants' experiences with the application that inspired the Rozelle company to take aka to market.

"We then looked at additional functionality that our clients would need, such as import and export from their existing RDMS products," said Ms Christensen.

aka has a standard Windows editing function, spell checker, inbuilt acronyms and can handle records published in HTML, RTF, PDF, and text exported to HTML. The application can import or export its thesauri to Tower Software's TRIM or Hummingbird's PowerDOCS databases.

"This will be a single control for your terminology," said Ms Christensen.

aka owes its creation to the fact that Synercon could not find a classification tool. "We searched the market, but couldn't find a tool that really met our own needs. There really wasn't anything that measured up to our specification. So we decided to develop our own," she said.

"We look at aka as an enabling tool, not a management tool," she said. "There is such a lot of information management tools. What we are trying to achieve is to control the terminology. Knowledge management enhancements are being developed. "We are already working with a company in Canberra who build knowledge mapping systems and looking at how we can integrate this [aka] into the knowledge map of a company."

Improvements to aka are already under development. The next release will include exports to GMB's RecFind and Hierarch, whilst research is taking place into Keyword-in-Context and meta-tag classification. Synercon will also consider entering into relationships with content management application vendors to ensure that aka can be tied to enterprise content management systems, as well as records and document management systems.

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