Reconciling Knowledge and Collaborative E-Research

Reconciling Knowledge and Collaborative E-Research

Paolo Diviacco (Istituto Nazionale di Oceanografia e di Geofisica Sperimentale (OGS), Italy)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 20
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6567-5.ch001


The aim of this chapter is to analyze the mechanisms and the philosophical background behind collaborative e-research in the perspective of defining simple and useful models that can be used in developing Web-based tools to support such activities. In its simplest form, collaboration refers to the interaction between humans. This is problematic, as the interaction between the subject and the outer world is always uncertain. To address this issue, a framework is proposed here, where metaphysics and epistemology are confronted, clearing up concepts as objectivity, subjectivity, opinions, or facts. The limits of “knowing,” of being aware of the knowledge we have, and of the possible transmission of knowledge are highlighted through comparison of science and other domains. A new vision becomes urgent and can be addressed through a “deliteralization” of knowledge grounded on “representation” since this is the projection of knowledge and the source of cultures.
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Collaboration is about working with someone else. It is not an easy task to perform since issues can rise from misunderstanding, distance, lack of awareness and many other factors. Different scientific domains can have different needs. Motivations and social relations between partners can be different as well. E-research is a horizon we are aiming to, where collaboration takes place on the web. This adds a further layer of complications, since while linking partners in an easier way that before, at the same time, it bias the traditional way in which people are used to work together. Several examples of implementation of virtual research environments are already available and some have been proposed by us (Diviacco, & Busato, 2015 see chapter 19 this book; Diviacco, 2012). However, we claim that a theoretical approach to e-research is still missing, that could somehow fix the horizon and let us explore it. This chapter (together with Diviacco 2015, see chapter 19 this book) is intended to propose some keys to achieve this aim.

In this we would like to start from the very simple point that if collaboration is about working with someone else, one of the first things to consider in the exploration of this domain is to analyze the subject as the necessary actor of collaboration. Once the subject is posed the focus can move to the outer word until it reaches other actors. In this, a huge amount of problems immediately arise and a wide literature advises us on the dangers of this situation. When the subject tries to understand the outer world most of the philosophers in the history of mankind warns us about misunderstanding, incommensurability, bias, subjectivity, up to psychosis. Most of the philosophical traditions are rather pessimistic on the possibility to access the outer world.

Of course here we will not dare to propose solutions for such overwhelming issues, we will only make use of some ideas developed by “giant” thinkers in order to compare domains that are generally considered different and too far from each other, such as Science and the Arts. We claim that this distance is absolutely not so wide as most of the people think, and that many commonalities exist instead. What follows, in fact, will demonstrate that many regularities can be found in the two domains and that this can help us, building common models and paths, in the task of devising tools to support collaborative work and knowledge networks in particular for e-research.

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