The study of knowledge fascinated humanity since remote times (Wiig, 2000): the first “western” traces of this study dates back to the works of important Greek philosophers (e.g., Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle). On the same vein, Indian and eastern philosophers (e.g., Lao Tzu and Confucius) focused their attention on knowledge as an essential learning process to obtain a fulfilling spiritual and concrete life. From a more practical point of view, we could also observe that humanity has always (un)consciously, but effectively, used knowledge as a mean of survival.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Ontology: (from the Greek ??, genitive ??t??: being (part. of e??a?: to be) and –????a: writing about, study of) in philosophy relates to the fundamental branch of metaphysics. It studies being or existence as well as the basic categories thereof—trying to find out what entities and what types of entities exist. Ontology has strong implications for the conceptions of reality. This concept has been borrowed by information science, where it indicates an exhaustive and rigorous conceptual schema describing a specific domain (that may not cover completely the knowledge on that topic, but just describe the domain of interest chosen by the ontology creator/s).
Communities of Practice (CoPs): Communities of practice are groups of people interacting regularly who share an interest and practices about this interest. This term has been coined in 1991 Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger, who, at the beginning, adopted it in relation to situated learning. In a second moment Wenger extended this concept, that it is now applied to organizational settings, and applied to KM, as a mean for nurturing new knowledge, stimulating innovation or sharing existing tacit knowledge.
Answer Set Programming (ASP): A particular form of declarative programming. ASP is quite similar in syntax to traditional logic programming, and it is also close in semantics to non-monotonic logic. Anyway a main difference exists between ASP and the traditional logic programming: while the latter interprets negation as failure as the failure of a derivation, ASP interprets it as the consistency of a literal.
Web Ontology Language (OWL): OWL is a mark-up language used for publishing and sharing information using ontologies on the Internet. It is derived from the DAML+OIL Web ontology language, and it is an extension of the resource description framework (RDF).
Tacit Knowledge: The concept of tacit knowledge derives from Michael Polanyi’s scientific and philosophical works. This term has been coined to describe those aspects of knowledge that cannot be codified, but only gathered on personal experience or transmitted via training. Usually it is described as “know-how,” and it has been found to be a crucial input for the innovation processes.
Semantic Web: The basic idea of the semantic Web project is to create a universally recognized medium for exchanging information by giving meaning (semantics) to the contents of documents on the Web, in a way understandable by machines. The semantic Web extends World Wide Web features through the introduction of standards, markup languages (among which OWL—Web ontology language) and the related processing tools (e.g., inferential engines). The project is currently supervised by Tim Berners-Lee (the Web’s creator) of the World Wide Web Consortium.
Artificial Intelligence (AI): The intelligence exhibited by a machine (generally a computer). It is a relevant branch of computer sciences, and deals with intelligent behaviour, learning and adaptation in computer-based machines. Currently diffused applications using AI include: systems adopted in economics, medicine, video games, and so on.
Knowledge Management (KM): There is no universal definition of KM. The term indicates a discipline involved in the study of strategies and processes to create, share, identify, capture and use knowledge to fulfil organizational objectives. KM aims to enhance enterprise competitiveness through better use of the organisation’s individual and collective knowledge resources.
Socio-Semantic Web (S2W): An innovative approach to semantic Web, based on social and human aspects. This new field of research attempts to integrate SW and cooperative knowledge creation capability typical of communities. S2W actually aims at developing in a cooperative and continuous manner, by community members, maps of the concepts discussed within the community.