Re: [unrev-II] 2020 Hindsight: A Fictional DKR Narrative (long (sorry))

From: Rod Welch (
Date: Mon Jun 12 2000 - 13:59:49 PDT

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    Very thoughtful illustration you set out in your letter today of the challenge
    for knowledge management.

    One approach is to organize the record according to objectives derived from the
    hierarchy of human needs. While it is pretty complex to identify chunks of
    information in a way that it can be readily assembled when needed to guide the
    work days, weeks, months and years later, your open source query might be aided
    by explaining how that approach saves time, improves productivity, and
    earnings. Those criteria have proven to be good generic starting points for
    evaluating tools and work methods. Time, productivity and earnings in turn,
    each have a host of related sub-subjects that provide granularity to focus
    evaluation more narrowly.

    There is a tendency to get caught up in the marvels of a technology, and lose
    sight of "usefulness." Use case studies should address your scenario, so
    hopefully as the DKR project continues, more examples will be posed to guide the
    work. Another example that is long winded compared to your clear and concise
    narrative, explains similar issues, and design concepts...

    Keep those examples coming. People are listening.

    A lot of people are hoping that voice recognition will hasten the day when the
    computer is easier to use for daily management, as might be expected of a DKR.
    We hope for relational processing to guide our thinking, and pictures to enhance
    understanding. This may reflect a subliminal desire that our lives could be
    more like the movies, where everything gets solved in 90 minutes by talking
    things out. Whether that is really desirable, even if possible, is open to

    In the meantime, it turns out that using a keyboard, computer screen, and
    special tools seems to augment human intelligence beyond what can be expected
    from reliance on voice recognition and pictures, for reasons in the record
    reviewing Andy Grove's book on 980307...
    Generating knowledge is hard work. But people don't mind hard work, if it
    yields rewards and is fun. Games are an example. People "work" awfully hard at
    golf, tennis, running, exercise, and computer games, because they get immediate
    satisfaction of varying kinds from the experience.

    Knowledge management has a similar pull of yielding immediate satisfaction
    (there are also emotional costs, but we will defer those to another discussion),
    once you get into it, so that the hard work is actually fun, as well as
    financially rewarding in solving problems. That is the rainbow KM is pursuing.



    > Bill Bearden wrote:
    > 2020 Hindsight: A Fictional DKR Narrative
    > I'm heads down writing when the new message alert sounds. This surprises me a
    > little because the alert threshold on my writing context is fairly high. But
    > it might be interesting so I go ahead and click on the alert.
    > My current context cube is automatically put on the top of the stack (which is
    > already way to big) and a new cube is opened. I notice right away that the
    > message is not context-aware. It is just plain old email. But the content
    > parsing agent determined the email was from my old boss, Gill Bates.
    > Bates is a little behind the times but very smart. I figure some day he might
    > send some more work my way so I leave his record moderated high. That is why
    > the alert made it over the threshold.
    > The parsing agent produced no summary so I guess I'll have to read the whole
    > message. Hmm... Bates is now chairman of the Archaic Software Preservation
    > Society. Fitting. I flip to the People face of the cube. It already has his
    > record up and I change his title.
    > I flip back to the Message face and continue reading. Bates wants to know
    > about the origins of Open Source Software. I told him back then he should have
    > paid attention. Sigh...
    > I click on the "Reply" button and open a blank cube in the body of the new
    > message. I flip to the Things face of the new cube and type in "open source
    > software?". Whoa, lots of stuff. But the top entry is an old DKR. I'll try
    > that first. I right-click on the link to navigate to it inside the current
    > cube.
    > The home page comes up and it is the standard stuff. The top of the page shows
    > the higher level DKRs all the way back to the top level, the Continuum. Let's
    > see, Socio->Tools->Computing->Software->Open Source Software. I'm in the right
    > place.
    > The next thing on the page is the topic summary. Nothing very interesting
    > there. But the next thing is a list of the top 20 current Open Source
    > packages. Under that list is a "time slider". I grab it and move it as far to
    > the left as it will go: 1994. I then grab the left side of the slider button
    > and open it up to 5 years. After a second or two, the list now shows the top20
    > Open Source packages way back then.
    > Let's see...
    > * Linux, an operating system
    > * Apache, an HTTP server
    > * Samba, a file/print server
    > * Perl, a scripting language
    > * and Emacs, a program editor
    > I lasso the top 5 and switch to the People face. The entries are:
    > * Torvalds
    > * Behlendorf
    > * Tridgell
    > * Wall
    > * and Stallman
    > I read the summaries of each person. There really isn't a lot in common. That
    > probably isn't what I'm looking for. I hit the "clear" button and flip back to
    > the Things face of the cube. I still have the top 5 packages highlighted.
    > I'm going to have to think about this for a second. What is the most important
    > thing about open source software? How do I find that out?
    > I move the mouse pointer to the nav-pane on the left side of the face. After a
    > second, the nav-pane expands to occupy almost the whole face.
    > I see a list of high level relations that connect to the 5 packages. I scroll
    > down through the list and right-click on "origin". The nav-pane retracts and I
    > now see a summary of the origin of each package.
    > Hmm, Torvalds based the Linux kernel on Minix and used GNU's shells and
    > things. Apache was originally the NCSA httpd server for which NCSA
    > discontinued support. Both projects built on a base of existing code. But
    > Samba, Perl and Emacs were all built from the ground up.
    > Interesting but this may not be the angle I'm looking for. I go back and
    > expand the nav-pane. I continue scrolling down through the list of relations.
    > I click on "users".
    > Now when the nav pane retracts, I see a high level categorization of the users
    > of each of the 5 packages. Let's see, Sysadmin, Webmaster, Sysadmin, Web
    > Developer, and Programmer. So the main groups of users for all 5 packages were
    > technical people. Perhaps that is important. I wonder who all made this
    > assertion.
    > I again allow the nav-pane to retract. I type in "assertion?" and the
    > assertion query dialog box comes up. I type "technical users" in the subject.
    > It is changed to "technical people". I can live with that. I type in "open
    > source software" in the Object. It takes it.
    > Now, what relation? I type in "are important to". It won't take it. I need a
    > better verb; "Are" is too general. I type in "promote". It takes it. I click
    > on "Find" and off it goes. This will take a few minutes. Good time to take a
    > break.
    > When I come back, a number of entries are on the screen. The top one is a
    > reference to an article called "The Cathedral and the Bazaar" (CatB) by Eric
    > Raymond. This rings a bell so I right click to navigate through it. Once
    > inside of CatB, I pull down the dimensions box and click on assertions.
    > A hierarchical representation of the assertions contained in CatB comes up.
    > The top level of the hierarchy shows Raymond's 19 "lessons":
    > * the first - "Every good work of software starts by scratching a
    > developer's personal itch."
    > * the second - "Good programmers know what to write. Great ones know what
    > to rewrite (and reuse)."
    > * and the sixth (in bold because it matches my search) - "Treating your
    > users as co-developers is the least-hassle route to rapid code
    > improvement and effective debugging."
    > So, lesson 6 (and to a lesser degree, lesson 1) supports the idea that Open
    > Source needs technical users. The projects must somehow excite technical
    > people.
    > But there in lesson 2 is the word "reuse". That implies existing code. I still
    > think this is important. I'll include it too.
    > I click "Save" and the context cube minimizes into my reply to Bates. I add a
    > little text explaining that "programs for programmers" and starting with an
    > existing code base were two of the important factors that gave Open Source
    > Software its initial boost. I click send.
    > That should keep him busy for a while. Bates' translating agents will turn the
    > included cube into lots of text. Perhaps someday he'll upgrade to
    > context-aware systems.
    > Now, where was I? I pop the top cube off of the stack. Oh yeah, writing on my
    > current book: Bits, not Buicks: How Virtual Presence and Cyberspace Helped
    > Solve the World Energy Problem. Cool!
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