Thesauri have been a primary dimension of the research and development interests of experts in information retrieval, online searching, user interface design, knowledge organization in general, indexing and abstracting, cataloguing and classification, and information search behavior studies. Developments in the age of the World Wide Web have paved the way for the increasingly more extensive use of knowledge organization systems such as thesauri.
Illustrative of these developments are new web-related formats and standards; new internet programming languages and platforms; and, more flexible and functional user interface design methodologies, along with significant increases in the speed, efficiency, and ubiquity of computer systems. These developments relate to the following areas of intellectual inquiry impacting thesauri: Digital libraries, Interoperability, Semantic web, Simple Knowledge Organization Systems (SKOS), Linked data, Taxonomies, Social tagging and folksonomies, Ontologies, Query formulation and expansion, Faceted and exploratory search, Search user interfaces, Information architecture, and Metadata. It is predicted that thesauri and other types of knowledge organization systems will be used in an increasingly wider variety of web services and applications.
The potential is virtually unlimited for web related developments and technologies to present new ways of both reconciling and exploiting multiple thesauri, and the knowledge structures inherent in thesauri, in support of information access and retrieval. My recently published book titled, Powering Search: The Role of Thesauri in New Information Environments provides a comprehensive treatment of the role, functions and applications of thesauri in new digital information organization, representation and retrieval environments.