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© 2011 By: Dov Trietsch. All rights reserved

Naming Documents (or is it “Document, Naming”?)

Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
What's Montague? It is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet
;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call'd,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name
And for that name which is no part of thee
Take all myself.
 Shakespeare – Romeo and Juliet Act II, Scene 2

We normally only use the bold portion of the famous Shakespearean quote above, but it is really out of context. As the play unfolds, we learn that a name is all too powerful. Indeed it is because of their names that the doomed lovers die. There might be life and death in a name (BTW, when I wrote this monogram, I was in Hatfield, PA. Remember the Hatfields and the McCoys?) This is a bit extreme, but in the field of Knowledge Management (KM) names are of the utmost importance as well.

When I write an article about managing SharePoint sites, how should I name it? “Managing a site” or “Site, managing”? Nine times out of ten I’d opt for the latter. Almost everything we do is “Managing” so to make life easier for a person looking for meaningful content, we title our articles starting with the differentiator rather than the common factor. As a rule of thumb, we start the name with the noun rather than the verb. It is not what we do that is the primary key; it is what we do it to.

So, answer this – is it a “rule of thumb” or a “thumb rule?” This is tough. A lot of what we do when naming is a judgment call. Both thumb and rule are nouns, albeit concrete and abstract (more about this later), but to most people “thumb rule” is meaningless while “rule of thumb” is an idiom. The difference between knowledge and information is that knowledge is meaningful information placed in context. Thus I elect the “rule of thumb”. It is the more meaningful title.

Abstract and Concrete are relative terms. Many nouns (and verbs) that are abstract to a commoner, are concrete to a practitioner of one profession or another and may even have different concrete meanings in different professional jargons. Think about “running”. To an executive it means running a business, to a marathoner its meaning is much more literal. Generally speaking, we store and disseminate knowledge within a practice more than we do it in general. Even dictionaries encyclopedias define terms as they apply to different audiences. The rule of thumb is to put the more concrete first, but within the audience’s jargon.

Even the title of this monogram is a question. Do I name it “Naming Documents” or “Documents, Naming”? Well, my own rule of thumb (“Here he goes again!?”) states that the latter is better because it starts with a noun, but this is a document about naming more than it about documents. The rules of naming also apply to graphs and charts, excel spreadsheets, and so on. Thus, I vote for the former.  A better title could have been “Naming Objects” only the word “Object” is a bit too abstract. How about just “Naming” or “Naming, rules of”? You get the drift.

One of the ways to resolve all of this is to store the documents in Knowledge-Bases, which may become the subjects of a future punditry. Knowledge bases use keywords to describe their content.  Use a Metadata store for the keywords to at least attempt some common grounds. Here is another general rule (rule of thumb?!!) – put at least the one keyword in the title.

Use subtitles. Here is an example: Migrating documents – Screening, cleaning, and organizing our knowledge. The main keyword is “documents”, next is “migrating”, other keywords also appear in the subtitle. They are “screening”, “cleaning”, and “organizing”.

Any questions? Send me an amply named document by email: coachcs@yahoo.com

 

 

Posted on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 9:24 AM | Back to top


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