Knowledge Elicitation: playing with cards

If you want to work with knowledge, you need firstly to ‘extract’ it. No doubt about that. There’re various techniques for doing this, and a whole research area called knowledge elicitation. I’ve recently had an inspiring meeting with Gordon Rugg, who convinced me it was worth spending time to validate my ontology, using a card sorting KA technique. I started this morning, and it is a lot of fun I must say.. Now I know what psychologists feel when they spend hours and hours interviewing people… it’s something like digging the ground, from the point of view of an archaeologist. Anyway, card-sorting is quite an interesting technique (a special issue of Expert Systems is completely dedicated to it). In a nutshell, card sorting involves categorizing a set of pictures, objects or labelled cards into distinct groups using a single criterion. The results can be very intriguing..

Picture sorts were used to investigate perceptions of women’s office clothes, with a sample of ten male and ten female subjects who normally worked in an office environment. The pictures on the cards were taken from catalogues, and showed women’s outfits which might be worn in an office. The subjects sorted the cards repeatedly and generated criteria and categories of their own choice. Some of the criteria and categories had not been previously reported in the clothing research literature. Over half of the male subjects, but none of the female subjects, used ‘married=unmarried woman’ as a sorting criterion, although only one of the images sorted showed a wedding ring. A significantly higher proportion of male than of female subjects used dichotomous categorization (i.e. sorting the cards into two piles for one or more of the criteria). The reasons for this are obscure, but do not appear to be a simple outcome of males not knowing much about female clothing.

Abstract taken from this paper…


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