Domain Map Object

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Operational goal

  • Develop a generic domain map object [1] and a domain map for Knowledge Federation.


  • The Domain Map Object provides exactly what is needed to eliminate the glut — organization and meaning. Think of it simply as a federation of intentions and experiences germinating within Topic Maps, Knowledge Cartography, Hypermedia Discourse, Polyscopy... Or as suitable GUI enabling corresponding activities to become general practice.

Immediate practical goals

  • Create initial version of the domain map object for knowledge federation using (a combination of) existing tools and begin experimenting.
  • Create an initial draft (describing user interfaces and use cases, perhaps using UML diagrams) of the generic Domain Map Object.

Themes to introduce, paradigms to change

  • Contextualizing knowledge and knowledge work [2] — putting knowledge resources on the map, to make them visible, to explain why they are relevant.
  • Structural abstraction [3] — enabling a community of interest to develop and maintain a map of their domain, providing orientation for research and learning.
  • Whole truth [4].

Contributions to Knowledge Federation

  • The Domain Map Object is a basic tool for federation of relevance and meaning
  • A domain map object enables an ad-hoc team of researchers from various fields (in knowledge federation as post-discipline) to put together the relevant knowledge resources; it enables the students in a federated course to get a quick grasp of the domain being studied and choose a personal learning trajectory.

Contributions to the changing world

  • The Domain Map Object supports social creation of relevance and meaning.
  • Domain maps enable systemic handling of issues, and systemic action in any domain [5].


  1. A domain map is a palpable presentation of a domain pointing at relevant resources and providing for them context and meaning. See an early description in Section 3 of Karabeg and Lachica: Knowledge Federation as a Principle of Social Organization of Knowledge Creation and Sharing, and in a bit more detail in this online document.
  2. (Rough first draft) We are moving out of an era where the implied purpose of knowledge work is to create a reality map; it is a world where every piece counts — being a piece in the puzzle. We are moving out of an era where the disciplinary worldviews, and any traditional worldviews, are assumed to be true images of reality. Remove these assumptions, and the ideas and the resources become homeless wanderers in an infinite space of possible interests. But this also opens the opportunity to give those ideas and resources new homes — where meaning and purpose in knowledge work are consciously chosen, not assumed, and not implied. (...) A lot has been said about the need for subject-centric organization of knowledge that could be repeated here; but let me highlight another side of this project which has more to do with abstraction, creation of meaning, visual mapping — I sometimes call it contextualization of knowledge; I envision a culture where every idea has a 'home' — a recognized context that gives it relevance and meaning; in Ch. 3 of my book draft Informing Must be Designed I illustrate these ideas by talking about the Alexander Techniqe. A priori, one should hardly be interested; but when it is understood that Alexander Technique is a way to learn effortless use of the body — which in turn is (let us hypothesize this) understood as a lion share of an issue that we try to resolve by developing the technology, then Alexander Technique is properly contextualized. I am hinting here at a culture where knowledge, right knowledge, has highest value, instead of being devalued by an overload of data without proper context.
  3. A topic map organizes existing knowledge according to a collection of keywords; a domain map depicts the domain; it immediately shows what is big and what is small, and how the things fit together. To a community of researchers, a domain map may point at important areas of the map where the knowledge is lacking; to a reader, a domain map may point at topics and corresponding resources that are relevant for his interest but that he or she would probably never look at, without seeing their place and relevance displayed on the map. Think about a newly formed federation of knowledge workers - organized to understand a new domain; the construction, maintenance and permanent re-construction of the domain map object for the domain on which they are working will give the knowledge workers an opportunity to understand the domain's structure, to find out what sorts of knowledge are needed to understand the domain, and to create suitable questions and place holders.
  4. In polyscopy I called this perspective; the idea is to model the intuitive concept 'truth' by several criteria, (the main) one of which has to do with showing the whole (phenomenon, subject, object, issue...), i.e. with nothing obscured or hidden, and in correct proportions. When perspective is used as criterion orienting knowledge work, then domain mapping becomes the art and science of doing knowledge work right. This is an alternative to a partial yet factual truth, where for ex. we fit into a worldview puzzle whatever fits in, and ignore the rest. Knowledge federation (understood as first of all assembling all that belongs to a task or a theme without bias, and then making a good high-level presentation or presentations) becomes understood as just a natural way of serving this natural goal.
  5. Vignette Over the years I developed an uncommon approach to my own health provides a concise template for systemic action by using health and healthcare as metaphor; to practice this approach, one would need a suitable domain map of human health of well-being. This can be generalized to any complex issue.

Temporary community sites

See also

  • My TMRA 2007 five-minute lecture Knowledge = Mountain, is a concise description of a paradigm shift this project is part of. The domain map object is the 'killer app' or 'mountain-building kit' in this lecture.

Back to 'Introducing Knowledge Federation'

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