Maps, Graphs, and Annotations as Boundary Objects in Knowledge Networks, Distributed Cognition, and Collaborative E-Research

Maps, Graphs, and Annotations as Boundary Objects in Knowledge Networks, Distributed Cognition, and Collaborative E-Research

Paolo Diviacco (Istituto Nazionale di Oceanografia e di Geofisica Sperimentale (OGS), Italy) and Alessandro Busato (Istituto Nazionale di Oceanografia e di Geofisica Sperimentale (OGS), Italy)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 22
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6567-5.ch019

Abstract

Scientific communities tend to speciate in tribes that evolve their culture so that after some time they do not have the same understanding of the same terms or concepts. Tacit knowledge, that is the knowledge that cannot be expressed or formalized, complicates this even more. Since we cannot fully know what a concept refers to, we would have limitations in developing IT systems to support collaborative and distributed cognition activities and knowledge networks trying to map knowledge between paradigms. To address this, the authors propose to switch to another perspective where knowledge is kept implicit and the referential communication function (iconic signification) is exploited instead. In this perspective, they develop a specific virtual research environment named COLLA-ANT, which, albeit being still a prototype and needing more use cases, has proved successful in addressing the above-mentioned issues.
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Background

Communication

Communication models analyze the conditions under which representations are produced, transmitted and received. Most of these models identify an author, who produces a message which is received by a reader. The message refers to a certain state of affairs and is expressed in a code. The code must be shared as much as possible between the author and the reader. In all this, a medium is required that connects the author and the reader.

All these factors influence the structure of every communication.

A communicative function is the aspect under which a communication can be understood. Among all the possible communicative functions1 we will concentrate on two of them which are mostly important, and that are the (i) referential and the (ii) meta-linguistic functions.

The referential function is mostly important because relates the representation with the referent, that is the state of affairs2: Following Kant (1781) there are three possible modes of presenting states of affairs, and namely (i) assertoric: when a state of affairs is affirmed to exist3 (ii) hypothetic: that refers to the possible existence of a state of affairs. 4(iii) apodictic: refers to a necessary existence of a state of affairs upon logical inference from another state of affairs.

The meta-linguistic function was introduced by Carnap (1942) to ensure communal understanding within the scientific community. It is an abstract level where the concept is defined in order that the reader can understand it. Carnap (1947) developed this function in the view to explicate concepts in a denotative fashion. This means that the concept is defined by its intension. The intension of a concept is a sort of list of all its pertinent attributes. The extension of a concept is the set of all individuals that match the intension. The model is based on the assumption that it is the intension that determines the extension, which means that only once we have defined the set of properties of a concept “A” can we realize if an entity is “A”. The problem is that, following this vision, a change in the intension will change the contents of the set of related entities (Putnam, 1975) and therefore it is easy to understand that denotation and the idea that representation can be “customized” by the needs of a community do not go together well.

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