Thursday, January 31, 2008

(More) Interesting Links on BioFuels

Here they are (note these are for my reference, but anyone can benefit if the emerging biofuel economy and its implications are of interest).

Friday, January 18, 2008

DIAC - 2008 (Thinking and Research for Paper)

So I’m currently engaged in an extensive review of ICT for NRM projects (I will post references later). There are a number of programs that focus upon the utilization of ICTs for dynamic systems modeling or for predictive modeling needed for early warning systems in a number of natural resource based industries. However, many of these systems (at least as far as I can tell) ignore some of the more qualitative information that is directly connected to the human dimension of NRM. For example, there seems to be little that deals with community-centered knowledge, culture, local politics and local information. This prompted a question: What about systems that enable community participants to interact or to record their knowledge in relation to their community of place?

Continuing along, I have become increasingly concerned that current programs seem to be out of date, or do not seem to address some very important elements of NRM within a community based context. For the most part a lot of the things I see are connected more to big agro-business, and global commodity systems rather than with locally based development and NRM. To me this is a serious shortcoming considering the number of people who are living in poverty and the fact that many poor persons are the ones dependent up natural resources for livelihoods. As a result, I would think that this population would be the most central human dimension to the NRM ideal.

Now this probably isn’t indicative of the entire scope of NRM focused ICT projects as there are a number of geo-spatial based programs out there that seek to integrate indigenous knowledge, yet even these seem to be geared almost exclusively to the trained “expert” rather than providing content or access to the so-called non-expert. In this sense the systems of knowledge are directed towards the experts and not the actual people these systems are meant to support and benefit.

Perhaps I’m miss reading a number of these projects, but they nonetheless appear lacking. If anything, these programs present an opportunity for further investigation that emphasize community, collaboration and local knowledge. Based upon this standpoint one might consider the use of knowledge management systems and local knowledge mapping as a potential application for evaluation within a local/rural community context. In this way it might be possible to create a useful dialog between the so-called development expert and the actual community participants that these NRM based development programs are meant to address.

From this perspective I think my current research project makes perfect sense as it intends to address the types of information and knowledge archived within a system as well as the ability of local groups to make sense of this knowledge. For the purposes of this project I hypothesize that pattern based thinking could perhaps make an important contribution in the area of qualitative and heuristic based knowledge, especially for community centered adaptive planning and development.

Now, this paper is just a “think-piece” of sorts that will highlight the shortcomings of current systems, yet it will present a model that could be empirically tested and evaluated. The trick then is to develop a model that can be tested.

So the current focus of my work is to develop a system and model that utilize patterns as central content components which reference other pieces of knowledge to develop a holistic model that utilizes a broad scope of tools to support community planning and NRM focuses eco-design.

Interesting article on BioFuels...

Source, International Herald Tribune....
Here is the link:

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Proposal for DIAC-2008

Patterns, Knowledge Management and Collaborative Decision-Making in Community-Based Natural Resource Management

Knowledge management (KM) tools have become an important feature in the organizational and decision-making apparatus within governments, industries of finance, banking and software. Recently, natural resource managers and international development practitioners have sought to apply these tools in the service of sustainable development and community-based natural resource management (CBNRM). However, current implementations have been arguably weak in relation to target audience, access to 'knowledge' and the types of content served by these systems. As an alternative approach to the configuration, development of content and semantic relation building of knowledge within such systems, this paper proposes the adoption of patterns and pattern languages as principle components of content, as well as a model for the overall structure of knowledge within these systems. With patterns serving as the primary model for content structure, it is possible further develop the knowledge base through the linkage to other forms of content such as spatial data, case-study reports and other information as needed.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Reconfiguring my e-Portfolio

The work on my e-portfolio has been lagging. A part of the reason for this is due to a re-conceptualization of my work and further grounding of my interests in natural resource management and sustainable development.

This means that several of the sub-sites that were built as placeholders for future content don't necessarily apply as they did once before. Though the structure is still relevant the content suggest either an expansion or pruning of the domains currently described on the site. The topics of interest should reflect my current research focus and not necessarily some arbitrary domains of inquiry.

I also need to list the partners and projects that I’m currently working. So it seems I have a to-do list for this evening and weekend.

Abridged Reading List for "Expressing Knowledge Across Multiple Dimensions"

These are just a few of the resources I have gathered on the topic of knowledge mapping and ontology building. Some of these speak specifically about pattern usability where as others discuss methods for visualizing and constructing knowledge maps.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Blurb for - Expressing Knowledge across Multiple Dimensions

This is a blurb for an upcoming talk slated for January 25, 2008 at Washington State University.

What is knowledge? How do we reuse it and transfer it? How do we represent this knowledge in ways that are simple to comprehend for the uninitiated? These are all serious and inherently difficult questions that are being asked among people working in nearly every field, whether in business or politics, in education or engineering. These questions also represent topics of this upcoming talk, “Expressing Knowledge Across Multiple Dimensions.”

In A Timeless Way of Building (1979) and A Pattern Language (1977), philosopher and architect Christopher Alexander put forth a theory on architectural practice that emphasized the use of patterns as reusable elements of good design. When configured together these patterns formed a network, a cohesive whole, a Pattern Language.

While Alexander’s work failed to bring about a revolution of modern architecture, the simplicity of his multi-dimensional approach to “Whole-Systems Design” prompted the adoption, and arguably a revolution among a number of fields completely unrelated to architecture. From object-oriented programming and software design, to community information systems, environmental planning and permaculture, patterns have become central principles for working with complex systems.

However, as the number of patterns has grown within each of these fields a concern over complexity and usability has surfaced. In an attempt to address these concerns a number of scholars have begun to focus upon the visual representation and ontological configuration of pattern languages. Yet, despite the strides made with knowledge mapping and information visualization, pattern users have been slow to incorporate these approaches into their knowledge base.

To prompt further thinking on the topic of patterns and pattern language representation, this talk hopes to address possible opportunities for representing patterns that enable users to traverse the multiple dimensions of a pattern language, as well as discuss some of the problems associated with current approaches to the visualization of a complex system of knowledge.