Networks of Knowledge in the Grid

Knowledge Networks in the Grid
In most disciplines, the term "knowledge” is understood to be networked information. In keeping with this definition, information becomes specific knowledge when it is placed in a context that enables a certain degree of information use. The information itself is derived from data, when data is given a structure and meaning that is based on human experience. The current D-Grid infrastructure primarily covers the level of data which requires technical resources such as computational capacity, data transport networks, storage resources and software.

The actual content, such as research and production data, documents, images, etc. (but also know-how and processing tools ) are generated, transported, processed and maintained within the individual communities. However they are insufficiently incorporated in cooperative, interdisciplinary research and business ventures, thus limiting their usability. Technologies without content are just as insufficient in a modern high-tech infrastructure as content without technologies.

For these reasons, the project WisNetGrid is developing a service layer for the content, in order to create a shared knowledge space, "a common language” within the D-Grid infrastructure, based on the virtual technical layer composed of the common hardware resources of the D-Grid. Today, it is still hardly possible to work in a sustainable, goal-oriented and efficient manner without incorporating existing knowledge and experience drawn from other disciplines; especially in terms of the currently prevailing high degree of interconnection among economic, ecological, social and information/communication processes.

The project is intended to provide central data and service capabilities with the possibility of coupling community-specific data sources, subject area-neutral and subject area-specific expansion of services and the use and expansion of higher-value generic knowledge workloads. The D-Grid communities "Knowledge Network - Environment” and "TextGrid” serve as examples drawn from engineering and the humanities.

The goal is to develop and construct a prototype of a generic "knowledge layer” infrastructure intended to make the following services possible:


  • Provision of services for the integration and networking of data and associated metadata resources
    • Metadata and ontology services
    • Directories and workflows
  • Integration of Grid data services  on top of the technical layer of the common hardware and middleware resources
  • Combination of the services to create a shared "knowledge space” with the opportunity for knowledge extraction, search and navigation

Knowledge Network - Environment
The knowledge network for environment was chosen as an 'evaluation community.' This use case does not represent a single area of interest, but rather a group with similar goals (e.g. landscape architecture, administration, geology, ecology). The community is composed of groups that generate environmentally relevant knowledge, those that use it and those that have to perform interdisciplinary evaluations. Only by means of a heterogeneous use spectrum can interdisciplinary use structures be developed and evaluated; it is also only in this manner that specialised solution approaches that cannot be transposed onto other user groups can be discouraged. With its enormous requirement for situated (related to a space-time documentation system) interdisciplinary databases and highly context-sensitive evaluation needs, the target community sets high standards, even for prompt data evaluation. The planned services should eventually enable the integration of support services for the entire knowledge generation process, the specific knowledge creation process, as well as the entire process of using knowledge (e.g. analysis, conception and controlling processes); in addition, the formulation of requests using specific terminology current within a certain field, finding data within the context of a specific field, and the mediation and supply of data in accordance with particular needs will also be made possible.

Knowledge Services for the Humanities and Social Sciences
The humanities and social sciences will serve as a further application scenario along with the existing D-Grid community "TextGrid.” TextGrid laid the basis for interdisciplinary research functionality in heterogeneous, distributed data collections with its metadata management and core-coding concept for text data. Mechanisms designed to promote interoperability of data and metadata are planned predominantly for the metadata and ontology services. The potential of generic text mining tools can represent an important advantage for users of TextGrid.

Furthermore, it demonstrates that the project results can be applied beyond the sphere of immediate interest to the natural sciences (which often take precedence), and can address the concerns of the humanities and social sciences too.