Category Archives: Readings

On Expertise and Expert Performance

Expert (Chambers Dictionary of Etymology)

What do expertise and expert performance have to do with this digital curation of knowledge creation project?
Well, if I can understand better what expertise is, where it comes from, and how it is constituted, I will have armed myself with a very valuable tool to identify how experts in the reading of ancient documents can be digitally supported in their task.
The Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance [1] is a very informative and rich book, which gathers findings on and around expertise as studied from various points of view: from Psychology, from Artificial Intelligence, from the Cognitive Sciences. Here are the highlights of my readings, presented, of course, within the framework of my own interests, that is, my aim to develop a piece of software which experts working with inscribed artefacts (including papyrologists and ancient near-east scholars) will find useful to conduct their research.

How to define Expertise?
Naturally, expertise is defined with respect to a specific domain; experts are specialists, they excel in a given domain. Yet regardless of the domain, there are two stances to define expertise and thereby experts. The first one states that expertise is a talent; this is the absolute approach, where experts are identified as those who produce exceptional results. The other one states that expertise is characterized by a high level of proficiency; this is the relative approach, where experts are those whose achievements and experience are greater than that of novices [2]. In that scope, Hoffman [3] defined the following proficiency scale (analogical to the craftsmanship stages as established in medieval times): Continue reading On Expertise and Expert Performance

Multi- and Cross-Disciplinary Research: Getting Organized

Leaving the starting blocks

This is where it all starts. Today is officially the first day of my fellowship, and I need to get myself into gear and out of those starting blocks. I’ve done cross-disciplinary work before, but here, I’m flying solo – or almost, as I thankfully have a mentor, and an advisory board of 7 to help me steer this project in the right direction.

So. I have 9 months to build a tool that will enable to curate digitally the knowledge creation process that is the act of interpretation of ancient textual artefacts such as Roman writing tablets and cuneiform tablets. I’m not starting entirely from scratch as this project is the natural continuation of the e-Science and Ancient Documents project; however, I’ll be taking a different approach, and attacking the problem by many angles at the same time. That’s where logistics and organization come into play. I have piles of literature to go through, from books on Embodied Cognition to handbooks on Expertise and Expert Performance and on Science and Technology Studies, via articles and manuals on Argumentation Theory, Logics, and Epistemology. All very exciting indeed – if a little intimidating maybe (is that possibly why I’ve just capitalized the names of all those fields)? And I’ll have to go through them one by one. I want to.

Beyond the workplan that I have established in the grant proposal, and that dictates monthly milestones (e.g.: the first month, January 2012, is mostly dedicated to bibliography), I will be using this blog to report and react on my readings. First in the pile, and the subject of my next post, will be an account of my musings through:

The Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance” (2006) K. Anders Ercisson, Neil Charness, Paul J. Feltovich and Robert R. Hoffman (eds). Cambridge University Press.

‘Şalmu’ and the nature of digitized artefacts

Last term (Hilary term 2011) at the traditional Oxford Slade Lectures, I had the chance to hear Prof. Z. Bahrani speak about the nature of representations in the Ancient Middle-East. The title of her lecture series “The Infinite Image: Art and Ontology in Antiquity” (many thanks to Prof. A. K. Bowman who flagged them up!) resonated with some of the questions we were dealing with while working on the e-Science and Ancient Documents project. I was  not able to attend the very first lecture, but enjoyed tremendously the second one, as well as all the following ones. The second lecture, entitled: “What is/was an image?”, struck very close to home and got me thinking about mimesis and subsequently about the nature of digital images of artefacts, or more generally of digitized artefacts. Continue reading ‘Şalmu’ and the nature of digitized artefacts