Modelling discourse in contested domains: A semiotic and cognitive framework

Mancini, Clara and Buckingham Shum, Simon J. (2006). Modelling discourse in contested domains: A semiotic and cognitive framework. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 64(11) pp. 1154–1171.



This paper examines the representational requirements for interactive, collaborative systems intended to support sensemaking and argumentation over contested issues. We argue that a perspective supported by semiotic and cognitively oriented discourse analyses offers both theoretical insights and motivates representational requirements for the semantics of tools for contesting meaning. We introduce our semiotic approach, highlighting its implications for discourse representation, before describing a research system (ClaiMaker) designed to support the construction of scholarly argumentation by allowing analysts to publish and contest 'claims' about scientific contributions. We show how ClaiMaker's representational scheme is grounded in specific assumptions concerning the nature of explicit modelling, and the evolution of meaning within a discourse community. These characteristics allow the system to represent scholarly discourse as a dynamic process, in the form of continuously evolving structures. A cognitively oriented discourse analysis then shows how the use of a small set of cognitive relational primitives in the underlying ontology opens possibilities for offering users advanced forms of computational service for analysing collectively constructed argumentation networks.

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