Controlled Term Lists Morph into Data Catalogs That Are Better, Faster, and Cheaper to Generate

May 24, 2022

Indexing and classifying content is boring. A human subject matter expert asked to extract index terms and assign classification codes work great. But the humanoid SME gets tired and begins assigning general terms from memory. Plus humanoids want health care, retirement benefits, and time to go fishing in the Ozarks. (Yes, the beautiful sunny Ozarks!)

With off-the-shelf smart software available on GitHub or at a bargain price from the ever-secure Microsoft or the warehouse-subleasing Amazon, innovators can use machines to handle the indexing. In order to make the basic into a glam task. Slap on a new bit of jargon, and you are ready to create a data catalog.

16 Top Data Catalog Software Tools to Consider Using in 2022” is a listing of automated indexing and classifying products and services. No humanoids or not too many humanoids needed. The software delivers lower costs and none of the humanoid deterioration after a few hours of indexing. Those software systems are really something: No vacations, no benefits, no health care, and no breaks during which unionization can be discussed.

What’s interesting about the list is that it includes the allegedly quasi monopolistic outfits like Amazon, Google, IBM, Informatica, and Oracle. The write up does not answer the question, “Are the terms and other metadata the trade secret of the customer?” The reason I am curious is that rolling up terms from numerous organizations and indexing each term as originating at a particular company provides a useful data set to analyze for trends, entities, and date and time on the document from which the terms were derived. But no alleged monopoly would look at a cloud customer’s data? Inconceivable.

The list of vendors also includes some names which are not yet among the titans of content processing; for example:









There are some other vendors in the indexing business. You can identify these players by joining NFAIS, now the National Federation of Advanced Information Services. The outfit discarded the now out of favor terminology of abstracting and indexing.  My hunch is that some NFAIS members can point out some of the potential downsides of using smart software to process business and customer information. New terms and jazzy company names can cause digital consternation. But smart software just gets smarter even as it mis-labels, mis-indexes, and mis-understands. No problem: Cheaper, faster, and better. A trifecta. Who needs SMEs to look at an exception file, correct errors, and tune the sysetm? No one!

Stephen E Arnold, May 24, 2022


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