Building a Research Agenda for Multi-Perspective Knowledge Representation (SIG/CR)

Our goal for the workshop is to leverage our SIG members’ experience and expertise to identify, define and compile a set of principles and practices for integrating and coordinating knowledge-representation schemes from different perspectives and for application in a variety of contexts without losing the integrity or personality of the contributing schemes. Put another way, how can diverse and autonomous schemes work together to provide a multifaceted view of phenomena, but not lose the structure and identity of the scheme itself. We see this as a long-term research and application endeavor for SIG/CR, with the workshop serving as a springboard for efforts that can take us beyond the conference to include our members (and others) throughout the year.

In keeping with this year’s conference theme, “Diversity of Engagement,” our guiding question for the workshop is:

What are the conceptual and technical issues of creating a relationship among ontologies that collect and represent multiple views and are often maintained by diverse constituencies?

Ontologies are built to represent the knowledge of a specific domain and thus represent the particular entities and relationships of that domain from that community’s perspective. But, what if there are many perspectives? Furthermore, ontologies must grow and change dynamically. We need to understand the process of ontology building and also the best practices in collaborative building. Although we anticipate this entails a set of questions that won’t be answered in one sitting, we hope to lay the groundwork so it can continue as a conversation and interest focus into the future.

There are many issues at the core of this problem:

• How do we accommodate not only differences of language, vocabulary and knowledge structures, but also differences of world view and contexts that guide these individual schemes?

• In collaborating on coordination of schemes, how are decisions made on what comprises the authoritative view? Is it useful to think of an authoritative view?

• How are such intertwined and interdependent systems maintained and by whom?

• Can we create basic rules that serve the design of multidimensional, multi-viewpoint, and multi-perspective approaches?

Last year at the ASIS&T annual meeting our SIG sponsored panels by way of laying the groundwork for this project: “Global/Local Knowledge Organization: Contexts and Questions;” and “Crowdsourcing Approaches for Knowledge Organization Systems.” We’d like to build on the work presented there to form the foundation of our project going forward, namely, the understanding of diverse knowledge structures, both at the conceptual and the technical levels.

The workshop will comprise two parts:

Part 1 of Workshop: Laying the Conceptual Framework for Building Multi-Dimensional, Multi-Perspective, and Multi-Viewpoint Knowledge Representation Structures

We will solicit short presentations on this general topic through a call for papers. These can be about knowledge structures in specific domains, or specific aspects of building and maintaining such structures. Each presenter will be encouraged to articulate principles and problems so that we can use them in constructing a conceptual framework for theoretical and practical work in this area.

Part 2 of Workshop: Involving Participants in Identifying Issues in Multi-Dimensional, Multi-Perspective, and Multi-Viewpoint Knowledge Structures.

The issues and examples presented in Part 1 will serve as a framework to proceed to practical collaboration. We will identify particular “views” or “dimensions” of knowledge representation with respect to space, population type and culture (local vs. global, individual vs. community/society views), time (diachronic vs. synchronic, contemporary vs. historical views(, opinion and authority (expert vs. crowds, viewpoint-dependent vs. consensual, subjective vs. objective views), and scope (intra-disciplinary vs. inter-disciplinary(. These could be used to represent, for instance, non-Western world views and knowledge structures, or the perspectives of people with disabilities, or the pedagogical perspective. The exercise will serve to bring to the fore the particular problems inherent in attempting to design such multidimensional classification scheme.

We will engage the audience in exercises starting with existing schemes/ontologies and look for approaches and techniques to harmonizing and integrating different views, or of making them usefully work side by side. We will consider the fundamental components of knowledge structures such as terms, conceptual relationships, overall structure, etc. Throughout, we’ll use principles of collaborative building, including collaborative editorial work and continuous maintenance.

After the conference, the outcome of the workshop will be a “white paper” addressing the workshop’s theme: What are the conceptual and technical issues of creating a relationship among ontologies that collect and represent multiple views and are often maintained by diverse constituencies? We’ll also produce a research agenda of questions and issues that could lead to ongoing projects to be conducted in the future, both virtually and in future workshops. We anticipate continuing the work throughout the year and designing future working sessions.

By presenting a “fundamentals” workshop, followed by an interactive session we hope to draw workshop participants into the issues and goals right from the start. We hope to spark some excitement for this topic. Finally, by committing to providing some synthesis after the conference and by continuing the project going forward, we hope to draw in people from beyond our SIG, and also from beyond the ASIST membership.

Pre-Conf. Workshops