Re: [unrev-II] More Inscrutability

From: Henry van Eyken (
Date: Sat Dec 23 2000 - 14:08:57 PST

  • Next message: Dennis E. Hamilton: "RE: [unrev-II] More Inscrutability"


    Excellent contribution!

    The matter of inscrutability has not gone altogether unnoticed. Frankly, I run into it
    just about every time I crack open a book about computing.

    This webmaster's attempt at coping with the problem is found on our home page, , where terms readers might encounter for the first time are
    explained in a footnote.

    Three forms of inscrutability stand out in my mind:

    1. unexplained abbreviations
    2. unexplained terms
    3. a style of writing that I personally identify with the term "freeze-dried English."
    Here is an example:

    "You have been snagged by the inscrutability of distributed mechanisms. E-msil systems
    in distributed operation are my favorite source of system-incoherence examples."

    I find it hard to fathom what precisely is meant by these sentences. What is meant by
    "distributed mechanisms"? What by "e-mail systrems in distributed operation"? What by
    "system-incoherence examples"?

    For more about freeze-dried English, see: goes it loose

    I do appreciate your forcefully bringing to our attention the pain on the brain caused
    by inscrutability.


    "Dennis E. Hamilton" wrote:

    > I am a visitor here because of a cross-posting that Eric Armstrong made with
    > another discussion list.
    > Having made this random entry, and musing about systems inscrutability and
    > incoherence, I can report that I had a heck of a time figuring out the
    > following terms, which are used heavily in this setting:
    > OHMS - Open Hyperdocument System
    > was the easiest
    > NIC - Network Improvement Communities
    > was the next easiest
    > DKR - Dynamic Knowledge Repository
    > was very tough until I searched the eGroup
    > SDS - I gave up on, it is used so heavily that I despair of finding a hit
    > that is actually definitive.
    > So, here's a test problem for and the unrev-II group:
    > What is the definition of "SDS" as used here?
    > If I came in at, how would I have found it?
    > If I came in at the eGroup, how would I have found it?
    > - - - - - -
    > What's the point?
    > 1. I am struck by the degree to which tacit knowledge infects most
    > contexts. It is easiest to notice that when the context is unfamiliar. I
    > am sure that visitors to sites I compile material on would be able to give
    > me a disappointingly-long list of undefined terms and undocumented
    > assumptions that baffle them.
    > 2. If an OHS/DKR is intended to support explanation (my test of any
    > knowledge-based system), it would seem that induction of conceptual
    > frameworks, contexts, and maybe even paradigms becomes important. With very
    > little exposure to this discussion, I do notice that a lot of the
    > implementation conversation is about pretty low-level plumbing (e.g., XML as
    > carrier, granularity of links, and frames versus hierarchies). I love to
    > fuss about infrastructure too.
    > 3. Maybe what is needed is some kind of challenge problem that could be
    > done on an existing corpus (such as the unrev-II collection) and demonstrate
    > achievement of some measure of DKR acceptability.
    > -- Dennis
    > AIIM DMware Technical Coordinator
    > AIIM DMware
    > ODMA Support
    > ------------------
    > Dennis E. Hamilton tel. +1-425-793-0283
    > fax. +1-425-430-8189
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    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Sat Dec 23 2000 - 14:13:20 PST