[unrev-II] Recommendations??

From: Eric Armstrong (eric.armstrong@sun.com)
Date: Wed Oct 03 2001 - 15:35:24 PDT

  • Next message: Eric Armstrong: "Re: [unrev-II] Recommendations??"

    Jack P:
    You've posted some 400 messages to the list (or maybe it
    was 500 -- I started losing track after 300 or so), most of which
    point to some impressive, cool, or potentially useful technology.

    John D:
    You've posted in the neighborhood of 200 messages, most all
    of which point to some powerful, cool, potentially useful

    These pointers would be very useful, if I had anything like the kind
    of time it takes to track down some 700 relative technologies,
    understand what they are about, and figure out how they can be

    However, I do not have that time. And as great as it is that you
    keep finding new, interesting, useful, and cool technologies, I find
    myself realizing that I am never going to be able to know how the
    latest revelation compares with, or may possibly interact with, any
    of the other 700 recommendations.

    The "information explosion" exhibited by these pointers alone
    illustrates some of the *vital* requirements for a useful collaboration
      1) Categories
          When recommendation "X" comes in, it needs to come in with
          a category (or multiple categories) or, better, categories need to

          be retroactively applied, so I can tell which recommendations
          achieve similar goals, or perform similar functions.

       2) Ratings
           There is no way on God's green earth I am going to investigate
           700 recommendations, until and unless that is my paid job
           (at which point I will be more than happy to undertake the task).

           Until that I occurs, I *must* have ratings for these things, so I

           can idendify "best of breed" in each category.

        3) Combinations
            If someone can say, "we can combine technology X with
            technology Y to do Z". That new combination can then
            be categorized and rated, so it can be compared with
            combinations X and M, or combination M and N and P.

    At this point, I find myself in the exact same position as the CIA.
    Someone will always be able to say, in retrospect, "see, I told you
    it could be done using X", for any "it" and an "X", where "X" is one
    of more than 1,000 alternatives that are buried in the list, once
    everyone's contributions are taken into account.

    However, the current system will only allow that recognition to be
    achieve retroactively. When one person with a limited number of
    technologies at their disposal figures out how to make something
    work (because they aren't spending their life evaluating alternatives),
    then it will be clear that "we had the information" in our possession.

    However, our ability to proactively identify that solution by
    of the combinatorial explosion of possibilities before us is negligible,

    at best.

    A system that allows for categorizing, rating, and creating new
    will allow that proactive identification of solutions, because any one
    can contribute a small quantum knowledge (consisting of a combination
    or a rating), and that quantum can be compared with other relevant
    quanta (via categorization, which juxtapose related bits of

    Without such a system, I find myself in a hopeless quagmire. There are
    too many options to consider, so "paralysis by analysis" becomes a real
    threat, were I ever to feel optimistic enough to attempt a foray. Given
    that any one combination is likely to prove untenable, the only way to
    feel optimistic enough to make an attempt is to know that, even though
    my approach will most likely fail, the result will be knowledge added to

    the system that help others steer clear, and the expectation that with
    all of us evaluating one combination or another, *some* combination may
    very well succeed.

    But, absent the ability to share my results in a way that others can
    from, in a repository from which I will reap the eventual rewards of a
    solved problem, how can I begin to choose from among the 700
    offered to me? How can I begin to focus on one, knowing at the outset
    that the effort may well be doomed at the outset and that, at the end of

    the process, I simply will not know which other combinations may have
    a greater chance of success. How can I even begin to figure out which
    combinations to use, when I have no sense of categories which to
    a partial ordering of the options?

    Recommendations, anyone?

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