Archive for the ‘boundary objects’ Tag

Boundary objects or Herding cats?

We have received some fascinating manuscripts for Knowledge Organization recently. Some of them come from outside KO but with a bent toward information, others come from disciplines completely apart from ours. All of them speak directly to our domain about the phenomena that comprise our science. All of them were problematic in peer-review.

If we are going to thrive as a science principally concerned with knowledge, then we must be open to learning what others have to teach us about our own phenomena. There is, I suppose, a fine line between accepting work that does not fit into our discussion because it fails to acknowledge our domain, on the one hand, and work that in essence contributes to our domain even if the authors have naively underrepresented their intersection with our domain. Was that diplomatic enough?

We have to show these authors where the intersections are, we have to point out the boundary objects. Then we have to suggest how the papers can be reconfigured to speak more cogently to our domain. It is, curiously, the realization of epistemology within our science. It is how we approach true interdisciplinarity.

And then we have to take it one step further by stopping ourselves from wandering off aimlessly or turning our backs on new ideas just because they did not spring from within a culture of classification. We have to reach across those boundaries and invite conversation. It is hard work, but it is essential for the advance of KO as a domain.


Posted September 14, 2014 by lazykoblog in epistemology, interdisciplinarity, Uncategorized

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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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