Representing Hard-to-Formalize, Contextualized, Multidisciplinary Organisational Knowledge

Simon Buckingham Shum

Much organisational knowledge is multidisciplinary, hard to formalise, and generated in discussions with competing viewpoints. Knowledge Management (KM) technologies need to be able to capture and share such knowledge. This short paper begins by characterising 'knowledge work'--are there salient features that we can identify? Next, an approach is described by which teams analyse and discuss problems, building graphical argument spaces as competing ideas are debated. Hypermedia groupware provides a way to embed ideas, decisions and rationale in their conversational context, and with other work artifacts such as reports, sketches and simulations. The orientation of this work emphasises the human dimensions to technologies for supporting organisational memory and expertise. The discussion seeks to situate this approach in relation to other KM approaches by proposing three questions that seek to clarify the interdependencies between economics, technologies, work practices, and the responsibilities of modelling and managing knowledge.

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