I am interested in how to develop a tool that would be able to map the major concepts of a discipline and then to be able to link these concepts across disciplines. The trick is to be able to map data from discourse – so that individual ideas about concepts, which are rich and varied, can be shown. I have two (dream) versions of what this might result in. The first is a game of word association that allows someone to pick multiple words and results in a string of words that can be explained in more depth. The second is a more complex reckoning of this that might involve a sort of discourse analysis wherein the literature provides definitions of concepts and links between concepts.
An example might be Archival Science and the concept of the archive. There are many different ways this concept has been defined over the years – and this is closely related to culture and society. In the recent past there has been some very significant works published that talks about the archive – and with which other words such as power, responsibility, construction and so on might be relevant. Additionally, Australian concepts of the archive are quite a bit different to our American counterparts. Furthermore, people in other disciplines, even those as close as Library Science, or Knowledge Management, define the archive as something else again (or do they?).
I see this concept mapping as a research resource, as well as communications tool. I like the idea of people who are the current ‘big thinkers’ in the discipline adding their own definitions about concepts. I would also think it would be great to get some cool visualisations out of it.