Information overload is a complex and growing problem that many systems have tried to remedy. Recognizing that technology alone will probably not be enough to solve this problem, and that conventional knowledge work practices need to change to take advantage of existing or new tools, Knowledge Federation has self-organized as a community for doing systemic innovation. That is, they work to redesign and change the practices in key areas, such as public informing, education and science, of knowledge work.
Knowledge Federation is a transdisciplinary community, which consists of experts and stakeholders from a variety of fields, both technical and non-technical. Thus, the challenge is to provide the enabling technology in such a way that the technical details of the implementation are ``encapsulated'' or hidden, and that exactly those functions that are needed and natural for systemic innovation are ``exported'' or provided.
In this thesis, we address this challenge by introducing two initial prototypes for ``boundary objects'', objects that serve as communication channels between two domains. Here, the two domains are the technical domain of tool builders, such as Topic Maps, Semantic Web and various IBIS implementations, and the non-technical domain where systemic innovation takes place. A specific purpose of these objects is to enable the creation of a suitable ``knowledge work ecology'' where the right kind of practices are supported. That is, the ones that are needed to remedy the information overload.
The first object is the Domain Map Object (DMO), which can be likened to a filing cabinet, or a place for organizing and storing knowledge resources. It can also be viewed as a map, or a collection of maps, whose purpose is to show a high-level overview of the subject domain so that what is worth seeing can be easily located. In other words, the DMO provides affordances for organizing knowledge, which naturally stimulates the suitable practices.
Our other object is the Value Matrix Object (VMO), which is an object attached to every resource in a domain, accumulating all data that can be relevant for computing the value of the associated resource with respect to a given query or context. Our definition of ``resource'' includes users, specifically authors, in addition to knowledge resources. In particular, the VMO provides affordances for rewarding human users for right behavior, such as organizing knowledge resources and taking time to produce high-quality content instead of focusing on quantity, by keeping track of all contributions and their value. Thus, the VMO can be used by system builders to create an ecology that rewards both production of high quality knowledge as well as contribution to knowledge organization.
Besides describing the two objects, we design and implement a prototype that shows the objects' main capabilities. We complete the functionality of our objects as boundary objects by inviting people from the two relevant communities to test the prototype and answer a questionnaire. At the same time, this can be seen as an experiment to test the feasibility and usability of our objects. Based on the results of the tests, we give suggestions for improving the present boundary object prototypes.