Re: [unrev-II] Recommendations??

From: Jack Park (
Date: Wed Oct 03 2001 - 20:08:16 PDT

  • Next message: Alex Shapiro: "Re: [unrev-II] Recommendations??"

    Eric A:
    You've posted, what? Dozens? Maybe more than that. I, too, have lost track.

    In any case, you raise an interesting series of points here; I am
    particularly interested in those points as framed by a post to an email
    list, and as dancing around the usability of that email list.

    In the many hundreds of posts to this list, there have been mentioned any
    number of alternatives to email lists as the best (whatever that means)
    means by which we can share and filter information. In fact, those
    discussions included the many URLs you raise as sources of information

    Along the way, some folks have argued in favor of email lists. At one
    point, I stated that by way of my own laziness, email lists turn out to be
    my default behavior, it being easier to just punch the reply button and
    light up the flame thrower than it is to boot the browser, log into some
    web site, roam around all the links until I find the right page, then type
    what I would have said anyway.

    You must have figured it out by now that I don't have even a clue as to
    what is the best means by which we can share and filter information; I'm
    not very sure how to define "best" given that every pair of eyeballs
    reading my words now belong to some human that has a completely different
    background, interests, and goals than I have. Maybe there is no "best"
    approach. It is for that reason that I have landed, occasionally, on sites
    like, where you have both a forum, and an email
    (optional) system all in one. You never punch the reply button when you
    get an email from a forum to which you have subscribed; instead, you click
    on the reply URL in the email and you are instantly taken to the proper
    place to punch a reply button, at which time you torch off the flame
    thrower and have at it. It's a pretty good combination of web forum and
    email list, except that the dcom stuff in my wintel box died and clicking
    on links in emails nolonger opens up my browser, and you can imagine how
    many key fiddles I must perform to do the same myself, so I rarely
    do. It's always something.

    For me, none of this is gonna work until I carry around with me a headsup
    display, microphone, and linux box with half a gig of ram on my hip,
    complete with wireless link back to the mothership where my brains really

    But, I think there is more, and I think that "more" is what your post here
    is really about. It turns out that collective information filtering is not
    easy, is never going to be easy, and it only pays back what you put into
    it. I surf the web at a furious rate, snagging ideas that I think my
    friends at unrev will find interesting, and I blast off a post to this
    list, complete with a URL and some level of teaser information intended to
    do the following: to catch those eyes that are ready to be caught, to
    permanently record a URL I thought interesting and appropriate to record in
    the unrev archives (perhaps for later mining by whatever brand of
    archeologists and paleontologists that succeed us), and to satisfy whatever
    other needs I may have to be seen participating in this forum. Something
    for everybody, I think. My model of unrev readers includes those who are
    just lurking, perhaps looking for snippets of something or other, those who
    are passionate about solving large problems, and yet others who are
    passionate about playing with the tools used by those who will try to solve
    large problems, and others of unimaginable motivations. I simply don't
    expect very many eyes to be caught, and that's the rub, for which I do not
    have a solution. I therefore have no recommendation.


    At 03:35 PM 10/3/2001 -0700, you wrote:
    >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?

    Community email addresses:
      Post message:
      List owner:

    Shortcut URL to this page:

    Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2.0.0 : Wed Oct 03 2001 - 20:00:10 PDT