Re: [unrev-II] OHS / DKR problem revisited

From: Paul Fernhout (
Date: Fri Dec 22 2000 - 06:27:46 PST

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    I like this and your other summarizes. I especially like the way you are
    referring to a debate on issues to create a set of requirements.

    I have a thought related to this and other subsequent posts by people,
    which is that since email is really the most widely used application on
    the internet, we need a clearer statement with details and use cases of
    how much better an OHS/DKR will be to solve any specific issues than
    email in a threaded email viewer.

    I like your list. What might make it even more useful is tying each
    point to a qualitative statement of how much this issue cannot be
    handled by email (the difficulty it entails for example, and how
    frequently it comes up). Perhaps we could start by refining the list,
    characterizing how one might address each issue with regular email (even
    if it required a certain disciplined use)?

    That is not to say finer grained linking will not be better, but it is
    to say, how much better. For example, referring to an earlier reply to
    Eric, I would guess "ecovillages" are already using email (and the web)
    to communicate and solve problems.

    Sorry I don't have more time right now to reply in more detail to the
    specifics of what you and others bring up. In general I think what you
    write is a very good summary of core requirements.

    I think the overwhelming difference from email is the "fine grained"
    nature of references we are talking about.

    The Pointrel system I released is designed in part to accommodate that
    -- although there remain issues of shared conventions for distributing

    Obviously there have been discussions on this list on how to do such a
    fine grained linking in regards to the specifications and the purple
    numbers (acting like chapter and verse numbers in the Christian bible)
    accomplish the same thing.

    However, as an alternative, perhaps a more disciplined use of email
    subjects in a threaded discussion (including splitting replied into
    multiple smaller emails) would immediately address this issue with
    conventional technology? [Although that has it's own difficulties as it
    eliminates the notion of connected "essay" from the system.] For example
    Rod and SDS exemplify disciplined KM, but it takes effort and developing
    certain work habits. Or, perhaps something as tiny as a modified version
    of an email client to be able to link to those references already given
    email would then go a long way towards this? Or perhaps, this would not
    be so essential if we had a standard way of referring to messages not
    being directly replied to?

    Obviously we can imagine a much better Augment like system, I am just
    looking for a clearer statement of the limits of the status-quo
    conventional email (used with a relatively decent email client) relative
    to requirements for tools able to handle problems of the scale we are

    Previously, Eric Armstrong has demonstrated the power of email when he
    did great summaries of previous issues and submitted links. However, in
    this sense he was doing disciplined KM with the tools at hand.

    Obviously the international space station, the Boeing 747, the Taj
    Mahal, and the city of New York have all been built without OHS/DKR.
    (What tools did people use?) So we are not saying you can't make complex
    things without OHS/DKR. We have to be more making statements about cost
    or speed. Then implicitly the reason for OHS/DKR becomes that lower cost
    or quicker speed may make developing a solution more politically
    feasible given limited resources. Or, another reasons is that
    technically, it may now be feasible to address problems that would
    otherwise morph faster than the solution could be devised. Again, though
    the issue is which problems have this requirement, as opposed to just
    using plain old text email to resolve?

    -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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