The matter of inscrutability has not gone altogether unnoticed. Frankly, I run into it
just about every time I crack open a book about computing.
This webmaster's attempt at coping with the problem is found on our home page,
http://www.bootstrap.org , where terms readers might encounter for the first time are
explained in a footnote.
Three forms of inscrutability stand out in my mind:
1. unexplained abbreviations
2. unexplained terms
3. a style of writing that I personally identify with the term "freeze-dried English."
Here is an example:
"You have been snagged by the inscrutability of distributed mechanisms. E-msil systems
in distributed operation are my favorite source of system-incoherence examples."
I find it hard to fathom what precisely is meant by these sentences. What is meant by
"distributed mechanisms"? What by "e-mail systrems in distributed operation"? What by
For more about freeze-dried English, see:
http://www.fleabyte.org/archives-meek-to-geek.html#Equal goes it loose
I do appreciate your forcefully bringing to our attention the pain on the brain caused
"Dennis E. Hamilton" wrote:
> I am a visitor here because of a cross-posting that Eric Armstrong made with
> another discussion list.
> Having made this random entry, and musing about systems inscrutability and
> incoherence, I can report that I had a heck of a time figuring out the
> following terms, which are used heavily in this setting:
> OHMS - Open Hyperdocument System
> was the easiest
> NIC - Network Improvement Communities
> was the next easiest
> DKR - Dynamic Knowledge Repository
> was very tough until I searched the eGroup
> SDS - I gave up on, it is used so heavily that I despair of finding a hit
> that is actually definitive.
> So, here's a test problem for www.bootstrap.org and the unrev-II group:
> What is the definition of "SDS" as used here?
> If I came in at http://www.bootstrap.org, how would I have found it?
> If I came in at the eGroup, how would I have found it?
> - - - - - -
> What's the point?
> 1. I am struck by the degree to which tacit knowledge infects most
> contexts. It is easiest to notice that when the context is unfamiliar. I
> am sure that visitors to sites I compile material on would be able to give
> me a disappointingly-long list of undefined terms and undocumented
> assumptions that baffle them.
> 2. If an OHS/DKR is intended to support explanation (my test of any
> knowledge-based system), it would seem that induction of conceptual
> frameworks, contexts, and maybe even paradigms becomes important. With very
> little exposure to this discussion, I do notice that a lot of the
> implementation conversation is about pretty low-level plumbing (e.g., XML as
> carrier, granularity of links, and frames versus hierarchies). I love to
> fuss about infrastructure too.
> 3. Maybe what is needed is some kind of challenge problem that could be
> done on an existing corpus (such as the unrev-II collection) and demonstrate
> achievement of some measure of DKR acceptability.
> -- Dennis
> AIIM DMware Technical Coordinator
> AIIM DMware http://www.infonuovo.com/dmware
> ODMA Support http://www.infonuovo.com/odma
> Dennis E. Hamilton tel. +1-425-793-0283
> mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org fax. +1-425-430-8189
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