Distributed ontology building as practical work

Randall, D, Procter, R, Lin, Y, Poschen, M, Sharrock, W and Stevens, R 2011, 'Distributed ontology building as practical work' , International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 69 (4) , pp. 220-233.

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Ontologies – a form of structured and logically related knowledge or classification hierarchy embedded in a computer system – are regarded by many scientists as having enormous promise for the consistent use and re-use of data. To realise this promise, however, is not straightforward. In this paper, based on ethnographic observation, we argue that the challenges for ontology building are ‘social’ as much as they are technical. By this we mean the routine work undertaken in the building process and the problems and difficulties entailed can be understood in terms of the practices of knowledge workers and the practical nature of ‘sorting things out’. Getting a better sense of how, in practise, this work gets done gives a sense of the main challenges of building successful ontologies and how this impacts on the design of tool support. In considering the practices of one group in particular, we try to show how, for members, the technical problems of determining what classification structure is appropriate, and what its boundaries might be, depend substantially on assumptions about the ‘community’ and its interests and purposes. This ‘turn to the social’ has ramifications for the understanding of ontology building and use. Specifically, ‘modelling’ approaches to ontology building tell us little about the practical organisation of the work and how this relates to the prospect of successful sharing. Ethnographic enquiry may reveal important issues that are otherwise missed.

Item Type: Article
Themes: Health and Wellbeing
Media, Digital Technology and the Creative Economy
Schools: Schools > School of Arts & Media
Schools > School of Arts & Media > Arts, Media and Communication Research Centre
Journal or Publication Title: International Journal of Human-Computer Studies
Publisher: Elsevier
Refereed: Yes
ISSN: 1071-5819
Funders: Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)
Depositing User: Dr. Yu-Wei Lin
Date Deposited: 18 Dec 2012 13:15
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2022 14:46
URI: https://usir.salford.ac.uk/id/eprint/27353

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