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Mambrey & Pipek workshop

Enabling Communities: Communication and Cooperation in and on Knowledge Landscapes

Workshop Proposal PDC 2000


Peter Mambrey Volkmar Pipek

GMD-FIT ProSEC, Inst. For Computer Science III

German National Research Center for Information Technology University of Bonn

Schloss Birlinghoven Roemerstr. 164

53754 St. Augustin, Germany 53117 Bonn; Germany



This workshop will unite researchers and practitioners from as different fields as virtual organizations, local community networks, virtual communities, computer science, business administration, social and political sciences. The shared interest addressed in this workshop is the management of knowledge in more informal, lesser organized settings, viewed as the collaborative building, usage and extension of a shared knowledge landscape. Especially organizational and/or technological measures to motivate and improve knowledge sharing and collaborative learning will be discussed.


Knowledge Management, Collaborative Learning, Communities, CSCW, CSCL


The metaphor of "knowledge landscapes" reflects many aspects of knowledge management, knowledge sharing and collaborative learning: Different kinds of knowledge have different degrees of visibility (depending on the position of the observer), knowledge in a special area can be seeded and grown, different ways to reach a knowledge level can have different degrees of difficulty (scouts may find easier paths and shortcuts), pioneering teams may challenge unknown territory collaboratively with an expedition, etc. Observers may become active and even change the landscapes themselves by building new "sights" and new "parks" or extending existing ones. The more self-organized structure of these activities makes participation a central collaboration principle.

Computer- and network-based knowledge representation and processing is envisioned as one of the most thrilling application areas in computer science. Now, with computers finding their way into almost all organizations and most households, and with the Internet and the WWW as a shared infrastructure, technology has reached a level of maturity that may make visions happen.

Knowledge management as a discipline in computer science or in the economic sciences has always been investigated from the perspective of knowledge as a valuable resource for organizations and their goals. Which aspects of knowledge management change when knowledge is seen as a resource for a more informal community of cooperating entities, as we encounter it in virtual organizations, communities of practice, communities of interest, local community networks or even society as a whole? We anticipate the discussion of the following questions:

  • Knowledge Sharing: What are the dynamics of knowledge sharing? Why do people share knowledge? What organizational or technological measures improve knowledge sharing? How can the demand for knowledge be measured and visualized?
  • Collaborative Knowledge Building: How can we support the collaboration in the knowledge production process?
  • Knowledge Scouting: How can knowledge resp. its representations (documents, books, experts, etc.) be reviewed, evaluated, highlighted, recommended and connected by individuals and/or groups?
  • Supporting the casual user: How can we improve tools in a way that they are prepared for the casual users, who do not want to spend excessive amounts of time on navigation and landscape forming?
  • Bridging divides: What divides hinder equal-righted usage and design of knowledge landscapes? How can the gaps be bridged or narrowed?

We believe that these issues have to be discussed in the context of three new challenges the shift to "lesser organized" settings poses:

  • Mass: Some of these lesser organized settings might come with huge amounts of users for the knowledge landscapes.
  • Heterogeneity: The users and their uses are much more heterogeneous (interests, abilities, intentions, etc.) than those in organized settings.
  • "Wobblity": Activity and dedication of individual users may vary largely across time. Fluctuation in "knowledge landscape projects" is much more usual than in organized settings.

We will welcome problem descriptions as well as presentations of concepts, tools and solutions within the fields addressed.

Workshop Plan

After a short introduction, participants from a more technical perspective will give short presentations of new methodologies, technologies and tools. Then practitioners will give short overviews on tool deficits or organizational problems they consider important from their practical experience in their work. Each presentation will be followed by a short discussion to estimate problem relevance to others. In a final discussion on steps to improve tools we will conclude the workshop. It is planned that a report on the results of the workshop will be published.

Convenors short biography

Volkmar Pipek

received a masters degree in computer science in 1996. Since 1997 he works with the Research Group Human-Computer-Interaction and Computer-Supported Cooperative Work (ProSEC) at the University of Bonn. Until 1998 he worked in the POLITeam project on organisational issues of collaborative computing, especially concepts for participative groupware development and introduction and user qualification. In 1999 he co-organised and taught in a distance learning project on "Computer Science & Society". Now he is project manager of the OlViO-Project which works on bringing together knowledge management and distance learning for virtual organizations. His research interests span issues like knowledge management, CSCL, CSCW, Electronic Democracy, Community Networks and Participatory Design, his focus lies on developing tools for collaborative discussion/decision support for design processes. He was co-organiser of the workshop "Beyond Knowledge Management - Managing Expertise" at the ECSCW'99 conference, and is member of the programme committees of the first German CSCL conference. He chairs the information systems group at the Working Group "GeoMed - Mediation in Urban Planning" (associated with the German Society of Geography) and is a member of the_network, an informal research and activism network for community informatics. He wrote several national and international publications on decision/discussion support for community networks and is co-editor of a forthcoming book on Expertise Management.

Peter Mambrey

received his M.A. in Political Science, Sociology, and Ethnology from the University of Bonn and his PhD in Social Science from the University of Duisburg. He worked as an assistant of members of the German Parliament, as researcher for the University of Bonn and since 1979 for the GMD – German National Research Center for Information Technology, actually as senior scientist. His main research areas are Participatory Design, Technology Assessment, Computer Supported Cooperative Work, and Community Informatics. He worked as advisor of ICT for the German Bundestag, several Federal and State ministries, and private companies. His mayor research interests lay in the field of social science informatics, since 1992 he teaches Politics and Communication at the University of Duisburg. He is member of several program committees (DIAC 2000; HOIT 2000), Co-Chair of the PDC 2000 and author and editor of several books and articles ( Since 1998 he chairs the IFIP WG 9.1 "Computers and Work".

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