[unrev-II] DKR-IR : Towards Topological Directories ?

From: Bernard Vatant (universimmedia@wanadoo.fr)
Date: Mon Feb 12 2001 - 11:24:20 PST

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    I had a look at your overview at
    I've some comments about what concerns directories, hierachies, etc.
    As a matter of fact, I've drifted during last year from activist Open
    Directory editor to Topic Map true believer :))
    with a due passage through a non-hierachical crisis last summer. See
    Now I've come to a more balanced viewpoint, see

    I quote from your page :

    "Hierarchies, to my mind, are not entirely dead.
    I'm of the opinion that new forms of hierarchical search will make a return
    in the not too far future, displayed as topographies"

    "OHS information retrieval needs to be two-footed for the immediate
    future -- the best IR systems will be an amalgam of good algorithms and
    good data structures. I call the latter "intelligent databases" -- in the
    dual sense that they are designed intelligently, and the data can be
    augmented (tweaked or enhanced) by human intelligence"

    That maybe has something to do with what I call in the above paper,
    following an expression stolen to Jack, himself being unable to trace its
    very origin, the notion of "entangled hierarchies". BTW if somebody knows
    the author of this expression, I'd would gladly meet him/her and aknowledge
    whatever is due to this autorship.
    In fact, we have to come back to a more accurate and refined use of
    hierarchies, that is meaningful hierachies based on class/subclass,
    set/subset etc ... whatever strictly taxonomic like in Botanics. But
    aknowledge it's a very powerful tool when it sticks to that limits, and a
    disaster when it's taken as an universal tool, as we see in Open Directory,
    where every type of meaningful relationship is forced into either a
    hierarchical one, or a loose "see also" or "related to".

    If we consider that :

    1. Most topics are multidimensional and are in fact the intersection of
    several hierarchical threads.
    2. The hierarchical relationships - or associations, to use the Topic Map
    terminology - are but one type of associations any Topic may be involved
    We have a strong basis to consider Topological Directories, with no "top
    level", but a "semantic core" of highly connected topics, where browsing
    would use both accurate hierarchical links, and all sort of directions
    transversal to this hierarchy.
    It looks like the general structure of such a "topological directory" will
    be, if not a formal Topic Map, at least something very Topic Map like.

    My hunch is the next generation web directories will be built on such a
    structure. I agree that the management and updating of such directories
    will need a wise blend of google-like algorithmic and ODP-like distributed
    human expertise. There is a great waste of human energy in ODP now due to
    the very incapacity of the mono-hierarchical structure to manage
    complexity, both at content and social model levels, leading to permanent
    power games and ontological unstability. Collaborative Topological
    Directories could avoid this trap is they care to be as intelligent in
    their social model as in their data base structure, and in fact if the data
    base structure is thought in synergy with the social construction. In
    short, if the Directory is built like a living system or company, where
    products, processes, and people are not considered separately.
    My vision of that a few months ago I called cooReso project. It did not get
    much feedback so far, but reconsidering it, it is quite close to DKR
    spirit. See www.universimmedia.com/planet/cooreso_eng.htm



    Bernard Vatant
    "Building Knowledge"

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