Title: Knowledge Representation for Socio- Natural Research 
Resource Type: document --> technical publication --> report 
Country: EU Projects 
Year: 2002 
Availability: Knowledge Representation for Socio-Natural Research (N. Winder), Dicussion paper 
Author 1/Producer: Winder, N. 
Author / Producer Type: EC Project 
Report / download web link (=direct link): http://www.aquadapt.net/pdf/Winder_-_Knowledge_representatio ...  
EUGRIS Keyword(s): Contaminated land-->Soil and groundwater processes-->Soil and groundwater processes overview
Short description: New computational technology allows us to produce beautiful software tools and so has created a situation in which applied scientists can no longer ignore cosmetic issues. Almost everyone engaged in the development of Decision Support Systems (DSS) is adding computational bells and whistles and daisychaining established simulation tools to justify the adjectives “generic” and “user-friendly” that secure peer approval and access to competitively tendered research contracts. Using the word “generic” in this context is ironic. If there really are generic lessons to be learned about DSS, they are unlikely be found by deploying computational artefacts with a life expectancy of three to five years. Indeed, some experienced commentators complain that form is now valued more highly than content. They describe the latest generation of DSS tools as LIAR systems (Let It Appear Realistic) and shake their snowy heads in mock disbelief. They are only half right. There is no reason why the exploitation of “front-end” technology to bring results easily before the eye should be equated with weak science. However, it is indubitable that trends towards increasing complexity in DSS seem to be driven by an aesthetic, rather than an intellectual agenda. It is possible to develop methods of DSS evaluation that look beyond the beautiful “front end” to see whether the conceptual core is sound or rotten but this hardly ever happens. Instead, evaluators and developers talk about DSS as ‘stand-alone’ software tools as if they were games, word processors or spreadsheets. This is no longer acceptable. The AQUADAPT papers Winder – Knowledge representation The fifth Framework Programme requires that the policy maker be integrated into the development and deployment of DSS tools. This has created many problems for consortia, not least among them that of divining who policy makers are and what they do with the results of scientific endeavour. I am not going to address these issues in my briefing paper but will seek instead to communicate some ideas about integrative systems developed within the management- and political-science literature. My paper resolves into three parts. The first part deals with developments in systems theory over the second half of the last century. Its purpose is to show why “hard” systems methods often fail. The second part uses ideas from “soft” systems theory and personal experience to construct a formal model of scientific endeavour. The third section sketches the principal results of a practical case study and seeks to ease the reader towards a less cosmetic approach to policy relevant research. 
Link to Project(s): AQUADAPT Strategic tools to support adaptive, integrated water resource management under changing utilisation conditions at catchment level: A co-evolutionary approach
Submitted By: Dr Stefan Gödeke WhoDoesWhat?      Last update: 14/02/2006

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