The future SAN-itized

This chapter on Semantic Association Networks by Katy Börner is worth reading by everyone interested in the Concept Web. From the concluding remarks:

Somewhere in the not too distant future, reporting a scholarly result might not involve writing a paper. Instead, scholars may add a “knowledge nugget node” or an “association link” to a complex semantic association network of humanity’s knowledge – some Bloggers are already practicing this today. The nodes in this network will describe tangible objects (e.g., a pottery piece found at a certain place by an archeologist together with information about its origin and intermediate positions/usages up to today) or intangible objects (e.g., a formula). Links will represent associations of diverse types (e.g., causal ones such as “ozone is created electrically in nature during active thunderstorms”). Each node and each link would have information on who added, modified or deleted it. A scholar’s reputation would depend on the number of nodes and/or links s/he contributed and their usefulness for humanity.
Scholars would navigate, mine, and add to this vast network of humanity’s knowledge using the information associated with nodes and links and data about the usage of nodes and links. If a scholar adds a new “knowledge nugget” or “association link” the network would be ‘re-compiled’ with the new node leading to

  • the identification of redundant data/algorithm/results,
  • a confirmation of existing facts improving the correctness of humanity’s knowledge,
  • a confirmation of the novelty of a fact increasing humanity’s knowledge, or
  • a conflict with existing facts.

In the latter case, either the new nugget or link is wrong, or other nodes/links are wrong, alternative interpretations/views are acceptable, or the entire conceptualization is not working and a scientific revolution [link added] in Kuhn’s sense (1962) is needed.

The full article: Katy Börner. (2006) Semantic Association Networks: Using Semantic Web Technology to Improve Scholarly Knowledge and Expertise Management. In Vladimir Geroimenko & Chaomei Chen (eds.) Visualizing the Semantic Web, Springer Verlag, 2nd Edition, chapter 11, pp. 183-198.

Jan Velterop


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