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Reverse knowledge engineering: a methodology for knowledge management

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2 Author(s)
Quintas, P. ; Open Univ., Milton Keynes, UK ; Demaid, A.

In this paper we discuss an experiment to recreate the evolution of a design in order to elicit the progression of knowledge during the course of a project. The project being studied featured an innovation-the creation of a combined telecommunications and sensing network by a multi-national company in cooperation with other large and small enterprises. The project took five years to complete, during which its scope expanded, the people and companies involved changed, and their numbers increased. The key technologies of the project involved purpose specific hardware and software, all of which needed to interact with an existing telecommunications network. We took it as axiomatic that knowledge was created during the course of the project and that our difficulty was to avoid post hoc rationalisation of the processes involved. To solve this problem we created an exercise in reverse knowledge engineering (RKE) focussed on a prototype-a box of electronics hardware containing embedded software and the capability of interacting intelligently with a network. A panel of engineers and researchers traced the evolution of knowledge during design changes by reverse engineering the product, essentially dismantling it and using the parts as a touchstone for building a picture of knowledge evolution. We report the benefits and pitfalls of the procedure, drawing particular attention to its ability to identify the trace elements of redundant decisions, these being the most difficult to identify by conventional interview techniques

Published in:

Management of Innovation and Technology, 2000. ICMIT 2000. Proceedings of the 2000 IEEE International Conference on  (Volume:2 )

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