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Re: [ba-ohs-talk] Organic Growth of Knowledge

Malcolm Dean wrote:    (01)

> I applaud your efforts and direction, and I wish you tremendous success. I
> still see no great use for it. Google is the best thing since sliced bread
> for finding information, but it doesn't know about my personal ontology, or
> that of science fiction writers.    (02)

Thanks -- I appreciate reading that.    (03)

Interestingly enough, it seems that many would-be designers of the
"Semantic Web" think they can solve this problem. Good luck! I'm more
worried that Google *will* be successful than in it not, in the sense
that the "next stage" of computing is charted to be having computers
taking over more of various tasks, all of which to me sound like
surveillance or at least make that extremely easy. With things like
Passport the Ministry of Information is not far off.    (04)

Note that in my project the ontology is being used by the user to navigate
their own research materials, as according to the way they organized them.
So there shouldn't be a disconnect, except as a person's ideas change over
time. For the "where did I put that?" type of questions, there will be
certainly be search tools.    (05)

The point here is that I don't expect there to be a one-size-fits-all
ontology. The project is designed to assist researchers (which includes
writers, since most researchers are also writers, and vice-versa), so
it's not a tool that just anyone would use. Being a writer myself, I'm
being quite selfish...    (06)

> In your example of the French Revolution, a search on the words "French
> Revolution" would be just as useful. If a paper was somehow marginal to that
> subject area, or approached it from a unique angle which did not include
> those words, it would be just as likely to be missed by either method.    (07)

Come now, you don't really believe that? If I were pedestrianly looking
for *something* about the Zealot movement in 1st century Palestine, eg.,
its scope, who was involved and why, well, something might show up. But
likely not what I'm looking for. I'd have to already know that a guy named
Hengel was a major researcher, and I'd probably not find that via Google.    (08)

Try searching on "zealot movement" and you'll get zealotmovement.com.
You'll also get a *lot* of Christian theological viewpoints. If you tried
"zealot movement palestine" and happened to know to click on "Horsley"
you'd perhaps get a book review. If you happened to append "Hengel" you'd
probably find the published excerpt from one of his books (out of print
since 1973). This is if you already know of some names.    (09)

And if one were a more serious researcher, the noise would make Google
even less valuable. And if you're researching a field that has a lot
of noise (try searching on "XML" or "sex crimes"), Google begins to fail.    (010)

But I'm getting a bit off track. My project is not a search tool.    (011)

> Possibly Wolfram's new science has a hint for us. He demonstrates that
> mathematical formulae cannot underly reality, because if, as he proposes,
> the universe is a simple program, you have to play it through to arrive at a
> particular moment. The only way to achieve the perspective of a given point,
> is to travel there.
> This is obviously a simplistic account of his work, but it shows that
> attempting to anticipate the perspective of a researcher through an ontology
> may be ultimately futile. And this is why I use and recommend an approach
> which does not ontologize in advance, but provides powerful tools for ad hoc
> "fuzzy" searches.    (012)

You perhaps didn't catch my mention of the fact that my project will
deliver a base ontology which I *expect* will be extended by the user
as they begin to categorize their research. I hardly expect a researcher
in zoology to be using the same ontology as one researching the French
Revolution or nuclear physics.    (013)

I'm starting to read Wolfram's book (gad, with its size when can you
say otherwise?). I'm not clear yet that an algorithmic approach to
knowledge brings anything new to the table that Bertalanffy's Systems
Theory did in the 1940s.    (014)

   http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ISBN%3D0807604534/principiacyberneA/104-6869077-3547961    (015)

There's been a lot of research into knowledge theory in the past
twenty or thirty years that makes Wolfram's ideas seem rather orthogonal
(to be fair, that's not his direction).    (016)

I'm also very interested in the work of Jon Awbrey, who takes a
completely different approach to logic than the mainstream, in something
called zeroth-order logic. His work is heavily influenced by Charles
Sanders Peirce's Pragmaticism. He had a working theorem prover which
is unfortunately written in Turbo Pascal -- ah, the vagaries of ever-
changing computer technologies.    (017)

Jack's been working with Jon on posting some of his work on
NexistWiki, and I've posted some of his work too:    (018)

    http://www.altheim.com/cs/    (019)

I think Jon is a goldmine of untapped and important research, and
while he's had some difficulty expounding his views, what I (with
my rather more limited mind and experience) can do to assist him
is something I consider now part of my goals (he's generously
volunteered to be a guinea pig with some of my work). I'm hoping
to gradually come to understand what he's done -- it's been a tough
road. Wolfram managed via wealth and an expert staff to get his
ideas out after a decade of writing. Jon's been at it a long time
too (something like 30 years).    (020)

> I believe that so much attention is being paid to processing and
> categorizing the information that the user end of the equation is    (021)

> suffering.    (022)

I certainly don't disagree, but as Eric points out on a personal
scale, it often takes a lot of up-front work to in the end help
out the end user side of the equation. People like Doug Englebart
and those at Xerox PARC did a ton of research before the Macintosh
ever hit the streets.    (023)

In line with the subject of this thread, I do believe that the
world's knowledge (not just its information), and its conceptions
of knowledge are gradually growing, improving, and doing so in
a very "organic" manner. We see growth rings, and every once in
a while a branch is lopped off. And (thank god) infrequently we
even get a lightning strike. It's hard to keep up as it is.    (024)

[more coffee]    (025)

Murray    (026)

Murray Altheim                  <http://kmi.open.ac.uk/people/murray/>
Knowledge Media Institute
The Open University, Milton Keynes, Bucks, MK7 6AA, UK    (027)

      If it wants to be a global power and a player in the
      Atlantic alliance, Europe has to get back into the
      business of making war. -- Newsweek Magazine, June 3, 2002    (028)