This work begins with an exploration of the semiotic aspects of the communicative processes involved in interactions within Communities of Practice (CoP) in the context of Computerised Information Systems. Abductive multiloguing is highlighted as a suitable concept for describing the mode of communication via discussion lists. The cognitive processes involved in this mode are also highlighted. This is done in the light of Habermas' call for 'communicative action'; the need for meaningful communication arising from the interactions of participants of a CoP is emphasised. CoPs are presented as self-regulating meaning-constituting (human activity) systems.
Communities of Practice are explored using the CLIMATE framework: a holistic approach to requirements definition for telepresence environments. The fundamental components of CoPs are described: Community, Language, Identity and Medium. The purpose of the communications of a CoP are investigated with an exploration of the knowledge transfers taking place. The benefits of Knowledge Management Systems for a CoP are discussed.
The differences between interaction and participation are distinguished. A systems approach to identifying obstacles to communication in requirements definition is applied to identifying the obstacles to participation and knowledge transfer in CoPs. This is accompanied by the identification of obstacles outside the systems approach.
The concepts of public goods and generalised exchange as they relate to the artefacts produced by participation in a CoP are explored in relation to the 'social dilemma' of public good production.
Finally, a critique of the approach undertaken is presented, along with a synthesis and further thoughts..