Re: [unrev-II] Jack's Use Case: Context-sensitive representation

From: Jack Park (
Date: Thu Oct 26 2000 - 10:29:59 PDT

  • Next message: Jack Park: "[unrev-II] Re: Roll your own browser"

    The topic maps folks do this with a *public subject* which is being defined
    as a registered URN. Registering URNs doesn't appear to be all that easy.

    In a closed system, you just start with the number 0, grab a couple of
    numbers for some reserved things, then start giving every concept a new,
    unique number. Pointrel does this. I suppose you'll need to use long
    integers to pull that off, but, what the heck. Problem is, you cannot share
    with others; that requires grabbing numbers from some registry. Unique URLs
    would do, I suppose. If you chose a unique URL, then, at that web page, you
    can put some kind of verbiage, photo, movie, whatever, so that all viewers
    grok the same thing.

    I refer to this process as *semantic grounding*. In closed systems, it's
    rather easy. In open systems, it's really hard. Imagine, however, something
    akin to a centrally agreed upon web site, say, at which a
    registry is formed and all the peoples of the world unite around such a
    registry. Then, you get into the problem of censorship; it's not gonna be
    very long before all the four letter words, smut, whatever, gets registered.
    In an open and completely free society, there may be nothing wrong with
    that, but we all know that it's simply not the case that *every* human will
    agree to such an arrangement. Thusly, *semantic grounding* is liable to end
    up restricted to important domains -- those of the kinds described in
    Unrev-II, and a few more. In those domains, censorship will go with the

    The trick, however, is to manage the impact of personal bias/POV/whatever in
    the creation of grounded concepts. I believe grounding should come from
    collaboration, not fiat. In fact, it is interesting to ponder the nature of
    what we are, how we are, and beyond.

    We are constructed with a 4-letter alphabet. That's it. What tiny alphabet
    would we need to build a software project that would, given time,
    collaboration, and lots of will power, self-construct all the grounded
    concepts in the universe of discourse it experiences? That's a tough one.
    In fact, imho, it is _the_ tough one, none the less, the tough one we really
    ought to be aiming at. Of course, we need to spin off working prototypes of
    significantly lessor sophistication in order to gain experience with the
    concept. I, personally, am rather focussed on the nature of that 4-letter
    alphabet. That's partly why I think that projects like Pointrel, complete
    with Paul's line of reasoning, are important to this forum.
    From: Eric Armstrong <>

    > This comes from the "architectural snag" discussion.
    > It's a question Jack Park raised with respect to
    > Paul Fernhout's triad system. But it identifies an
    > interesting and important problem. So I wanted to
    > raise it to the highest level in the discussion:
    > > Consider a human, Jo Bag'O'Donuts. We see her riding in
    > > a car as a passenger. We know here to be a Java programmer.
    > > We also know her as Don's wife, Suzie's mom, and so forth.
    > > Grounded in all these contexts is the individual Jo.
    > > How do we represent her in way that we can use her in
    > > different contexts?

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