What the Reviewers Say

For a few months now I’ve had a whole scrolling list of reviewers’ comments on my book up with the book description. I’ve decided to pull these down into a single post here which I’ll update periodically. So less of the book and more of the book blog from here on! Read on to see what peope thought about the book.


“I opened the book on a flight yesterday, just to take a look, and I wound up finishing it by the end of my trip. What a great job you have done. It is a rare blend of good writing, sound guidance, and conceptual stimulation. I haven’t seen many books to match it for offering a clear theoretical framework along with a clear application framework. I am going to order several copies to give to some other colleagues. Congratulations on an impressive accomplishment. This book has forged an indelible connection between cognition and information science. I hope it reaches the wide audience it deserves.”

Gary Klein expert on the cognitive processes in decision making, author of Sources of Power, The Power of Intuition, and co-author of Working Minds

“I consider this book a must for taxonomy practitioners and students alike. Importantly it covers the classification of knowledge in documentary and non documentary form and as such should do much to facilitate communication and understanding between all players (i.e. knowledge managers, librarians records managers etc. ) in the organisation with responsibility for categorising and classifying knowledge in its various forms. I particularly like the way the principles and instruction is contextualised with examples from human endeavours in categorising and classifying over time. The various case studies are relevant and support and explain the principles and instruction too. Well done Patrick. I am looking forward to a second edition in a few years given the speed with which developments are taking place in this field e.g. with the growth of folksonomies (something you touch on in the book).”

Marita Keenan, Records Management expert, Australia

“It was Jan Wylie who persuaded Inside Knowledge to rush out a review of Organizing Knowledge, the moment our review copy arrived. “It’s excellent background for non-specialists. Full of insights and useful tips. You really must read it,” he insisted. And who can ignore such an emphatic recommendation, especially from someone as knowledgeable in the field of taxonomies as Jan Wylie? While it is aimed at knowledge managers and people planning a taxonomy implementation, Lambe’s style is easy to follow, starting from first principles: can we organise knowledge? Good question and one that Lambe deftly and succinctly answers… examples not only illustrate the wide-ranging uses of taxonomies, grounding the subject in the real world and helping to demonstrate their relevance, but help to make for a most readable book on an otherwise dry subject – and that’s quite an achievement.”

Graeme Burton, Inside Knowledge Magazine

”...when Patrick sent me his new book I settled down on a plane and read it from cover to cover. I then re-read it a week later which is a rare compliment and I have no hesitation in recommending the book… One of the things that Patrick does well is to place taxonomy within the wider context of library sciences, and does so in an eminently readable way. Chapter two in particular moves us beyond the tree structures which are all too common. There is a wonderful table (2.2) called the Practical Implications of Taxonomy Forms. This covers everything from a simple list to the complications of facets. He then uses the Cynefin framework as an organising strucuture for different forms… As a writer Patrick has that rare ability to combine deep academic insight with practical language. His book provides practical advice, but also intellectual stimulation; expect some more blogs on this subject over the next month as a result. Patrick’s book has joined a small select set that sit on the top of my bureau desk and the book already has many underscorings and green ink comments in the margins (well we all have rituals).”

Dave Snowden, pioneer of organic knowledge management and applying complexity principles to organisational life

“Patrick has brought sexy back to taxonomies! Through a series of lively case studies (including the appalling Victoria Climbie incident) Patrick shows how taxonomies are used in the real world as decision-making frameworks; to help discover risk and opportunity; and to bring a shared vocabularly to an organisation. The very clear point to Patrick’s book is that taxonomies articulate knowledge and far from being the tree structures we perhaps associate with the concept, taxonomies are dynamic, fluid and ultimately can contribute to organisational effectiveness.”

Kim Sbarcea, Chair of Australian KM Standards Committee and blogger on KM and sustainability

“I’ve known Patrick for quite a long time and the placeholders I’ve developed around KM and taxonomies were largely a result of watching him deliver workshops and speak practically about wide ranging topics, from social network analysis to brand to customer service, and yes, on KM and taxonomies as well. His book weaves through all of this and more to explain, in a practical manner, what taxonomies have to offer and how they can be used for different purposes and in different disciplines, be it for information management or for project management.”

Maish Nichani, expert in user experience design and information architecture, editor of elearningpost.com

“When Patrick sent me the book I inmediately realised that it will become an standard for many students, researchers, librarians, knowledge managers and so on. The book is extremely easy to understand and read. Nowdays, many people support social tagging as a substitute of taxonomies. Reality is that humankind has developed classification schemes for thousands and thousands of years and we will continue classifying to build consistency in our shared language. Even if most chapters refer to taxonomies, the book also brings updated and clear links between social tagging (folksonomies), ontologies and the main subject and provides a very good understanding of how its combination can benefit the semantic and information era. The book describes in detail (case studies, environments, governance and so on) how to map the structure of a domain in a way that is easy to grasp and navigate. This is what social tagging and ontologies do not fullfil and ultimately the value taxonomies bring to overcome our cognitive constrains. A book to read from beginning to end, a book to use as a reference in our daily tasks, a book to better understand our babel challenges.”

Carlos García Timón, learner and researcher (and knowledge manager), Sweden

“This is not a how-to manual. While a strong overall methodology is outlined for creating and maintaining a taxonomy, there is not enough detail to allow the uninitiated to walk this path unaided. This book does, however, achieve two very important aims. Firstly, it introduces taxonomies and their use to a business audience. Through many current and historical examples, often presented engagingly with great wit, Patrick lays the groundwork for understanding taxonomies. He then builds on this foundation to show how many different types of taxonomies can be put into practice in typical business situations. The mini case studies used throughout are particularly instructive. Secondly, this book is a call to action for those typically associated with taxonomies (such as librarians and records managers) to take a broader view of the world. Encouraging these specialists to venture outside of their bounded domains, Patrick shows that taxonomies are not a theoretical exercise, but a practical approach that must be tempered by the pragmatic realities of organisations.”

James Robertson, content management expert, Australia

“Thanks for publishing the Organising Knowledge book. Your insight and writing style has made very complicated subjects approachable, and the content very relevant and current. For example, your explanation of social computing trends in the context of structured environments is especially insightful.”

Kit Sharma, Intranet Publishing Program Manager, Cisco, USA

UPDATE: January 2008

“I bought this book to get some input on methodology around taxonomy and to get the terminology sorted out. The book delivers! It is a book that can be read as a introduction to taxonomy, as a book for methodology for creating taxonomy, as a book for selling the idea of taxonomy to decision makers and a book to get ideas for how to improve your project/application. Highly recommended and an easy read.”

Øyvind Marius Brande-lien Oslo, Norway - Amazon.co.uk review

“Although this book may not be of interest to all indexers, I do highly recommend it to anyone who works on taxonomies or is interested in working on taxonomies. The intended audience of the book is indeed limited to knowledge management and taxonomy professionals. Even those with considerable experience working in taxonomies will find this book informative and enlightening. At $69.95 (Amazon.com), those merely curious about the field may hesitate to purchase this book, which so far is only available in a few select academic libraries. However, if taxonomy is your specialty, this book is definitely worth the price.

After reading Organising Knowledge, I am no longer surprised at the lack of other comprehensive books on this topic. It appears that taxonomies are quite difficult to describe and thorough taxonomy work is quite involved to explain. So, while there might be a growing number of people practicing as taxonomists, most do not feel up to the task of writing about it. I was quite impressed with the breadth and depth of this book, and I compliment Patrick Lambe on a job well done in writing what I expect will become a valuable source for the field of taxonomies.”

Heather Hedden, American Society of Indexers, USA reviewed in The Indexer October 2007

“This book introduces some interesting new perspectives on the importance of taxonomies within organisations – both for the purpose of knowledge management and for improving organisational effectiveness. The claims that are made in the book are well-illustrated and supported by a rich collection of relevant case studies. For people who are new to taxonomy work, this book would undoubtedly be a very useful asset. Established practitioners in this area might also find this volume a valuable ‘refresher’ – especially in terms of the range of case studies that are presented.”

Philip Barker, University of Teesside UK – reviewed in The Electronic Library vol 25 Issue 5

“I’ve just finished reading Patrick Lambe’s excellent Organizing Knowledge: Taxonomies, Knowledge and Organizational Effectiveness and highly recommend it. Patrick has done a fabulous job providing practical advice and examples of taxonomy creation and development in a wide range of organizations and settings. Reading this book is like taking an advanced class in taxonomies because you’ll learn how to go about the entire process of creating, implementing and nurturing a taxonomy. One of the biggest take-aways for me was the realization that taxonomies do a lot more than help content seekers find what they’re looking for. Taxonomies, as Patrick says, provide a common language for an organization, help organizations make sense of their world, they support innovation, they help structure and organize, and they help identify risk. The book is worth every penny if you can get a copy.

Jim Smallwood, Manager – Content Operations, Boston, USA via TaxoCop

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