Knowledge: An Information Systems’ Practical Perspective

Knowledge: An Information Systems’ Practical Perspective

Shadi Ettantawi (The Arab Academy for Banking & Financial Sciences, Jordan) and Asim El-Sheikh (The Arab Academy for Banking & Financial Sciences, Jordan)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-887-3.ch019
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Abstract

A number of disciplines have approached the concept of knowledge. None of the existing definitions of knowledge can be generalized to other disciplines, and most importantly, none of such attempts fit the requirements of information systems (IS). This chapter suggests to perceive knowledge from the point of view of IS, as an attempt to answer IS requirements better. The proposed vision of knowledge is based on Information Systems’ layers.
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Introduction

There exist a number of attempts from different points of views to define the term knowledge. The concept of knowledge has been seen as a human related concept, therefore it has been approached philosophically, spiritually, psychologically, socially and organizational based, e.g. (Ayer, 1956), (Hrachovec & Pichler, 2007), (Bergson, 1999), (Bay & Backius, 1999), (Goswami, 2006), (Kotis & Vouros, 2006), (Singh & Jain, 2008), and (Choo, 1998). None of existing definitions of the term knowledge is yet the final one, i.e. none can be seen as true or complete enough. Most importantly, none of the existing attempts to approach the concept of knowledge is practical enough for information systems’ applications. For instance, the taxonomy of knowledge into both explicit knowledge and tacit knowledge has been widely spread, although this taxonomy is a false problem since it lacks to evidence (Bergson, 1999), (Popper, 1959), and (Styhre, 2004). Moreover, the concept of tacit knowledge is vague and produces problems to practical applications (Perraton & Tarrant, 2007), since tacit knowledge is seen as knowledge that the knower does not know he knows it, and cannot be systematically expressed, elicited, or codified (Polanyi, 1967).

Advising a framework for capturing and describing knowledge for conceptual design as sharable artifact among multiple domains and yet interpretable by the machine is still a research problem (Kitamura & Mizoguchi, 2004). Hence, from the point of view of computer-based information systems, there exists a need for perceiving the concept of knowledge with a more practical vision that relates the concept of knowledge more to information systems’ applications.

In Literature Review, sample definitions of the concept of knowledge are surveyed as an attempt to show that existing definitions of knowledge, at least from an IS perspective, are:

  • a.

    Ambiguous, i.e. they do not come with a specific interpretation of the general statements used.

  • b.

    Unpractical, i.e. no direct link with IS applications can be well established.

  • c.

    Incomplete, i.e. not all IS layers are covered.

  • d.

    Not true, i.e. some knowledge theories lack evidence, e.g. the taxonomy of knowledge into explicit and tacit; hence, consequent theories of such false problems are redundant.

Then, The Relationship between Ontology, Knowledge, and Software Development provides an attempt to draw the relationship between the concept of knowledge and the concept of ontology. In Defining Knowledge: The WH Layers, a definition of knowledge is proposed based on the ‘wh’ approach as an attempt to provide a definition of the concept of knowledge that is:

  • a.

    Unambiguous, i.e. it has a clear and a specific interpretation.

  • b.

    Practical, i.e. it has a direct and pragmatic link to IS application.

  • c.

    Complete, i.e. it covers enough needed IS layers.

  • d.

    Submissive to a validation procedure, i.e. its truthiness can be shown with tangible experimentation.

  • e.

    Domain-independent, i.e. it can be applied on a wide enough set of application domains.

In Example on the Use of the ‘WH’ Approach, an example to demonstrate the application of the ‘wh’ approach is provided. Conclusion and Future Work concludes with final remarks highlighting main points in criticizing existing shape of the concept of knowledge, and summarizes main advantages of the proposed perception of knowledge from an IS perspective.

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