Exploring classification as conversation

David M. Pimentel
2011 NASKO  
Conversations are proposed as a useful lens through which to consider knowledge-organizing behaviors. Human conversations are sites of knowledge creation, where participants communicate to establish meaning that is contextual and shared. The conversations generated in collaborative online environments offer new opportunities to observe, not only how knowledge is created, but also how users participate in various knowledge-organizing activities. In a Web environment pervaded by conversational
more » ... ms -social classification systems, blogs, and wikis -participatory knowledge organization is an emerging phenomenon that warrants further exploration. Other areas for research are suggested, including the potential promise to leverage participatory knowledge organization into future applications and developments of Web functionality. Conversations and knowledge creation Investigations into the theory and practice of knowledge organization must ultimately engage with questions surrounding the nature and creation of knowledge. 1 The discipline of information science has largely moved away from "information-as-brick" models, where messages can be transmitted from sender to receiver without loss of meaning. Rather, the nature of knowledge is increasingly viewed as an iterative process, with each individual attempting to make sense of the world s/he encounters (Dervin and Nilan, 1986) . Such attempts result in cognitive changes for the individual, creating a contextual, personal meaning. Various philosophies and theories have endeavored to address the nature of knowledge and knowledge creation. In an analysis of information science metatheories, Talja, Tuominen, and Savolainen (2005) draw distinctions between three broad approaches: constructivism, collectivism, and constructionism. The approaches differ on several epistemological points, but can be distinguished largely based on the role played by language. The constructionist model, in particular, characterizes knowledge as being "produced from limited viewpoints as parts of ongoing conversations" (Talja, Tuominen, and Savolainen, 2005, 90). Outside the field of information science, and seemingly aligned with the tenets of constructionism, Conversation Theory (Pask, 1975) identifies conversational exchanges as the basis of learning and knowledge construction. While developed to model cognitive processes for machine learning, Conversation Theory also operates at a broader conceptual level: "for Pask, anything that can be sensibly said about 'conversation' is part of [Conversation Theory]" (Scott, 2001, 346). Such broad applicability is likely a result of Pask's background in cybernetics, and Conversation Theory has been described as having the "aim of unifying theories and concepts across disciplines" (Scott, 2001, 346). 2 At its core, the framework of Conversation Theory centers on participants communicating and seeking a shared agreement, or mutual understanding. Pask's Pimentel, D. M. (2007) . Exploring classification as conversation.
doi:10.7152/nasko.v1i1.12829 fatcat:jchuzeaynbbrjmnwlmy4jhfeji