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Knowledge Representation

The ESRC's Evolution of Business Knowledge (EBK) programme was a major investigation into the way business organisations acquire and apply knowledge in pursuit of competitiveness. They produced a range of working papers, including Knowledge practices in design: The role of visual representations as 'epistemic objects' by Boris Ewenstein and Jennifer K. Whyte (2005). This paper used the concept of 'epistemic object' for analyzing how knowledge intensive design work is achieved in practice, where epistemic ‘objects’ are constituted by visual representations. Visual representations as 'artifacts of knowing' are characterized by an ‘unfolding ontology’(Knorr Cetina 2001) – they are constantly in flux, rather than fully formed. Their emergence and use gives rise to a range of questions that demand coordination and collaboration across domains of knowledge. The authors chart how knowledge is developed collaboratively, through the use of visual representations. They find that visual representations are trans-epistemic objects, unfolding over time and across different spaces or domains of expertise, with the knowledge work that they enable grounded in physical and digital manifestations.

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