Illustration with added terminology of a drawloom with ‘figure tower’. Source: <i>Tiangong Kaiwu</i> [<i>The Works of Heaven and the Inception of Things</i>], 1637, compiled by Song Yingxing (1587-1666?). Guan-edition.
This project's approach proceeded from the assumption that the dynamics of innovative processes are crucially affected by the distinct culture of communicating, accumulating, and implementing practical knowledge. It saw innovation benefits in a cumulative way from the circulation, access and recombination of different, pre-existing bits of knowledge embodied by a variety of actors. Practical knowledge is transmitted in different ways: orally and visually; materially; and textually. The project distinguished between transmission methods, i.e., personal contacts that transport tacit as well as explicit knowledge, skills, and experience supplemented by the transmission of knowledge in materia as apparent in tools, machines, and products, and, finally, written transmission. In the scope of the investigation it asked about the role and function of each form of transmission and how they combine to form a distinct culture of knowledge in premodern China.