Boundary objects

Family life being what it can be, I just spent two weeks sitting in a hospital, managing the care of my significant other (who now has recovered, btw). At the peak of the crisis he was in intensive care, where the large critical care team made me a part of their deliberations. It was curious in a number of interesting ways. But, this is my KO blog. On the morning of ASIST SIG/CR Classification Workshop, which I had to miss, I emailed my colleague and former doctoral student Chris Marchese about our co-authored presentation. I sent her this little story:

“Last night I had an experience. Dr. A and B were telling me he has condition X and Y. I said, that’s nothing new, I asked you to talk to his own doctor. They said “We have our own specialists” and I said, his doctor is a world-reknowned specialist and has two decades of data on his health and chronic conditions. I’m an information scientist, we encourage teams to talk to each other across their self-imposed boundaries.” They gave me a  kind of stunned look, but the next morning as I arrived they told me they had the file and had summoned his w-r-s doctor. But, it kept occurring to me that this is what our work is about, finding out how team A talks to its members, so we can learn how they are describing the same thing as Group 11, even though they seem to be working in different worlds. This is the importance of what we’ve done with CWA.”

There was a fascinating paper about boundary objects at Mysore this summer by Michael Shepherd and Tara Sampalli “Ontology as Boundary Object” (see the Mysore proceedings p. 131). Directly relevant, it showed how terms in clinical notes sometimes were misfires with terms in medical records, but the misfire was what made them boundary objects. I think there was to have been a paper about boundary objects at SIG/CR as well.

It behooves us to look more closely at this manner of creating interontological discourse.


Posted November 4, 2012 by lazykoblog in ontology

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