May 2007

This year’s Semantic Technology Conference opened up today with Dave McComb’s “Introduction to Semantics”. This was a great session providing an overview to put semantics in context, by quickly and clearly outlining why we need it (ever-increasing complexity), how semantics help to address the problem (enables the leveraging of metadata), its dimensions (architecture, building materials, and approaches), and components (ontologies or domain frameworks, related ontology authoring tools, rules defining relationships among categories of things [RDFS], triples through which assertions are made describing instances of things [RDF], storage facilities for the triples, and conclusions or inferences that can be drawn based on the intersection of relationships that are found to exist with the rules around such relationships [OWL]).

There was a good crowd at the opening session, so hopefully everyone is now primed with enough of a sense of the moving parts to be able to consider the subject of each session within the broader context of the space and in relation to, and consideration of, the rest of its parts.

Miguel Cornejo Castro just put up a nice draft of a piece discussing the perspectives of knowledge management, and the tools employed within each. In particular, the paper talks about KM as primary being in support of three objectives: Processes (where specific sets of information are needed in certain form, over and over again), Projects (where certain types of information are generally accessed to accomplish analysis toward varying ends) and Capabilities (as in enablement of knowledge discovery or one-off type access to material as needed).

In support of all three types of KM objectives are the types of tools we’ve all become familiar with – blogs, wikis, forums, directories, document/cms. The dynamic highlighted by the Miguel is the different ways that these tools are employed across the three objectives, and the different parties who use them, their reasons, and who the administrator is for each, within each objective perspective.

All of that is interesting – but really build up to the point that not all of the participants and perspectives (or any of them perhaps) will be in alignment in terms of purpose (see Integration and Emergence section of Miguel’s paper ), required functionality…, and thus the need for system itself to be emergent. This is a good substantiation of the case I was trying to make earlier in Planning for the Unknown… – not just with respect to semantic tools being able to accommodate the emergent nature, but in their addressing the interoperability needs as well. Further, the interoperability that is required is not just between toolsets, but between instances of utilization of a particular tool (such as one department’s use of a wiki being leveragable by other departmental wikis within the organization or network.

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