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Tools for Innovation$
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Arthur Markman and Kristin Wood

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195381634

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195381634.001.0001

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ConceptNets for Flexible Access to Knowledge

ConceptNets for Flexible Access to Knowledge

Chapter:
(p.153) Chapter 8 ConceptNets for Flexible Access to Knowledge
Source:
Tools for Innovation
Author(s):

Thomas B. Ward

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195381634.003.0008

Evidence from anecdotal accounts and laboratory studies converges on the finding that, when people develop new products within domains, their thinking tends to follow a path-of-least-resistance within the conceptual structures of those domains. That is, the majority of individuals retrieve highly representative, basic level exemplars from the domain and use them as starting points in developing the idea for new product. Their resulting products are less original than those developed by individuals who retrieve information at more abstract levels, but recent evidence indicates that they may also be more practical or useful. This balance between originality and utility based on the level of abstraction in information retrieved suggests that useful innovation might be facilitated by tools that allow people to systematically manage conceptual information at different levels. The types of tools described in this chapter, ConcetNets, based on existing systems such as WordNet, would allow individuals to manage access to knowledge by representing hierarchical and other types of links among concepts related to the domain. ConceptNets would allow users to traverse links connecting concepts at different levels so that they could easily access more abstract information from more specific levels as well as retrieve specific instantiations of more abstract concepts. In addition ConceptNets would contain multiple, polysemous senses of words to facilitate divergent thinking about problems. They would also allow users to actively traverse the connections or passively receive prompts about novel connections. To be most useful, specialized ConceptNets would need to be developed to represent knowledge in particular domains of innovation, in contrast to the more general knowledge represented in WordNet.

Keywords:   creativity, innovation, ConceptNet, WordNet, abstraction, retrieval, knowledge management

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