It’s been 12 months since I started my PhD, and it’s probably a good time to take stock and figure out exactly where I’m taking things. I wrote an original abstract after our initial visit and talks to park rangers, and have had it stuck to my wall since. Today, finally, it bugged me – so, I thought it was time to present to you a new one; followed by some of the major changes in the stances I’m taking.

Read the new abstract here.

So… what’s changed?

Context awareness

The major difference is the change from “location based” to “context aware”. Whilst location is still a large part of the research, location is just one variable in the broader notion of context – location isn’t enough when it comes to understanding the knowledge people have about somewhere; the meaning people attach to the raw “space” – a GPS coordinate- provides far greater meaning to the knowledge that is used and created there.

This notion of a raw location augmented with social meaning is referred to as “place”, and it is this socially constructed notion of location – not an x,y coordinate – that I will use as the core meaning of the term “context”.


Following from the idea of “social construction”, I’ve made it a point to explicitly state that whatever I design/build will not aim to interpret and provide meaning itself, but will consist of services and interfaces that allow people to construct their own interpretations of data, and to communicate it with others. The idea of knowledge as a social object is important here, as is literature around communities of practice and situated cognition. It’s more meaningful if you let people discover things for themselves.

Removing tacit

I’ve taken the word “tacit” out of the abstract – not because I won’t be dealing with it, but because I’ve wondered if it’s too limiting. The idea of facilitating knowledge discovery and creation is still directly related to tacit knowledge – the kind that cannot be easily gained or taught – and I feel that this implied direction is enough without explicitly stating I’m going to solve the world of it’s tacit knowledge problems.

The social life of knowledge

I’ve also deliberately used words to describe the cycle knowledge goes through in it’s social contexts – retention, generation, and communication. The system should facilitate all three activities equally, and with as seamless a transition between them as possible.

And next…

This refocuses the project somewhat – now, to actually make something.


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