Re: [unrev-II] Architectural Snag

From: Paul Fernhout (
Date: Fri Oct 27 2000 - 12:46:12 PDT

  • Next message: Eric Armstrong: "Re: [unrev-II] Poetry and Knowledge Management (was Jack's Use Case)"

    Paul Fernhout wrote:
    > [snipped stuff on error recovery]


    In regard to:
    231550 - Need example of errors that require "recovery" capability
    by the
    231551 - system. What is the "system" doing that can make an

    An example would be if your email system automatically categorizes
    emails for you based on content and word frequency. (IBM's doing some
    cutting edge work on this by the way.) Every once in a while you might
    review some of the categorizations and correct them. For example, the
    system might put all your email from this mailing list under UnrevII but
    you might want some but not all of it to also be categorized under
    "Knowledge Management". The "error" here is a miscategorization base on
    your wishes, which you may not have made clear to the system, or which
    the system algorithms may not be quite able to handle 100%.

    Another example might be that you realize there are two Doug Engelbart's
    sending you email but they are categorized together -- you go in to the
    system and review all the correspondence and split them apart (perhaps
    using tools that help you differentiate based on email address) and then
    build a way to always keep them separate. Or likewise, you get email
    both from an "Rod Welch" and "Welchco" and you decide you want them
    categorized together.

    Another issue might be merging two knowledgebases, you might need to
    review concepts which don't match up and decide which are similar or
    different (assuming the system was 99% accurate but there were thousands
    of concepts).

    I've seen these sorts of things with database in a textual sense when
    importing data. This isn't the same situation, but often when importing
    data you may need to review it and modify it slightly first (fix up
    spellings or missing entries) to import it into a database.

    Probably the best example I can think of is that you run some badly
    written piece of code (or code with assumptions or prerequisites your
    system does not adhere to) and it adds bad or incomplete data to your
    database. You then add some good data you don't want to loose, so
    rollback isn't easy. You might then need to go in by hand and find and
    fix the bad data based on an understanding of the code and what it did
    wrong. That wouldn't be easy to automate.

    Finally -- your database suffers physical (disk) corruption but you want
    to save what you can. A person might go in and see what is salvageable
    and direct various tools to recover parts of the data.

    Obviously, to the extent any of these situations become common, one
    might develop specific tools and procedures to make these easier to do,
    or performed more automatically with a minimum of understanding needed
    of the system architecture. Most of these "error" situations revolve
    around automatic procedures which only worked partially to begin with
    (where 99.99% success may still leave work to do), or changing needs or
    perceptions not planned for originally might require restructuring to
    how things are stored and careful attention paid to prevent loss or
    misplacement of data.

    It's analogous to work on a car. I can put gas in the tank, put air in
    the tires, change the wiper blades, and maybe notice that soemthing
    sounds wrong, but for some major repair (replacing a failed alternator)
    or preventive maintainence (replacing the brakes), the mechanic has the
    tools and experience to do the job faster with more surety than I could.
    That's not to say a lot of people don't work on their own cars -- just
    that there is still a demand for mechanics. It isn't cost effective or
    practical with current technology to make cars that run for a thousand
    years without any maintainence -- although some of today's cars can go
    100K+ miles without a tune up.

    Of course, with a mechanic, there isn't as big a privacy issue as
    letting a DBA poke around your confidential database...

    P.S. Your Welchco system vs. this email list provides an interesting
    example of knowledge management & integration issues from using multiple
    systems. You have questions but I don't know of them if I only look at
    the email list. So either I need to check several systems myself, or I
    need a system sophisticated enough (Apple's Knowledge Navigator
    prototype?) that it does if for me and presents it in a common format.
    -Paul Fernhout
    Kurtz-Fernhout Software
    Developers of custom software and educational simulations
    Creators of the Garden with Insight(TM) garden simulator

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