RE: [unrev-II] Collaborative Discussion Tools

From: Garold L. Johnson (
Date: Fri Apr 13 2001 - 10:49:05 PDT

  • Next message: Jack Park: "RE: [unrev-II] Collaborative Discussion Tools"


    I think we are in violent agreement.

    I don’t think that editing someone else’s work without leaving a trail to
    the original work is a good idea.

    I read your question as whether or not annealing was desirable rather than
    asking about editing another’s work.

    As I reorganize my information, I would love to have a track of the history
    of changes at an ‘appropriate’ level of granularity.

    It is not my intent that the work of others be destroyed in the process of
    restructuring the main thread, only that the main structure reflect the best
    of the integrated thinking of the participants.

    Consider the difference between having a textbook on a complex subject and
    *having* to wade through all of the papers, notes, memos, false starts, dead
    ends, etc. that are involved in the history of the subject of the book. The
    historical record can be extremely useful, even essential, so long as it isn
    ’t the only source of information.

    One of the things I like about Augment is that a document, once published,
    is there essentially forever. It is clear from the discussion that the
    interaction of versioning with reference is a definite issue.

    I think that the use of avatars for attribution would be an interesting
    experiment. It seems that ‘reputation’ would develop, and this may or may
    not be a ‘good thing’. It seems to me that in such a case most people would
    learn not to argue too strenuously with the most articulate regardless of
    what name was used. Since I don’t know any of you personally, for example,
    the names carry no impact beyond my experience with them in this forum, so
    there is no distinction between ‘real’ names and any artificial names. I
    recognize that there is a difference when we are talking about situations
    where there is interaction other than on the form, such as when some
    individual is in a position of authority.
    Since I feel free to disagree with anybody regardless of credentials, this
    doesn’t affect me directly. I figure that whenever there is a discussion, I
    either (or both) learn and teach, and either way, everybody wins.

    To summarize: The original work should never be lost by any summarization or
    restructuring that takes place. Part of this is addressed by getting ‘buy in
    ’ from the group on the rewording or restructuring.


    Garold (Gary) L. Johnson
    DYNAMIC Alternatives <>

    -----Original Message-----
    From: Jack Park []
    Sent: Friday, April 13, 2001 9:40 AM
    Subject: RE: [unrev-II] Collaborative Discussion Tools

    At 09:06 AM 4/13/2001 -0700, you wrote:

    [Garold L. Johnson] It may be useful to save the original input, but the
    structure of the result is as important as such things as wording.

    IBIS, for example, might be a valuable structure for documenting discussions
    even though it doesn t appear to work well for capturing the discussion in
    real time. In this case, the original input is historical, but the
    restructured discussion is the desired end product. This is where I think
    that David Parnas is correct that it is desirable to document the history as
    we would like it to have occurred rather than absolutely accurately the way
    it did.

    One of my difficulties in managing my own information is exactly this
    ongoing restructuring so that my recorded information documents my best
    understanding in an area. Tracking the history of an idea is also extremely
    valuable at times. None of the tools I currently have do a really good job
    of either of these things.

    [Jack Park] David Parnas (presumably) says it is correct that it is
    desirable to document the history as we would like it to have occurred...and
    you follow with that my recorded information documents my best

    And I see an apples and oranges issue here. Rod Welch is fond of recording
    events as they unfold at his site, then annotating hell out of them with his
    own brand of insight. That particular behavior results often in some really
    insightful walks down memory lane when he shares a page or two with us. On
    occasion, he might "get something wrong" and we are blessed with the ability
    to click a link and jot off a reminder, correction, whatever. At this
    point, he has either the opportunity to go in and literally change his
    record, or he has the ability to post the comment and react to that, leaving
    the original oratory intact. It's his personal space, and his right to

    So, given that there is merit in seeing the flow of information being
    translated into representations of somebody's knowledge, including all the
    warts, I recall my question: is it appropriate to mess with the original
    flow of information, occasionally restructuring it through a de novo
    presentation, perhaps adding commentary and so forth, or should one go back
    and restructure original messages, which, imho, opens up a whole nother set
    of issues on link integrity and so forth as is being discussed over on

    From my own perspective, whenever one messes with somebody else's writing,
    one is just liable to introduce personal biases into the result; again,
    imho, personal biases should never be allowed to censor or otherwise
    pre-interpret an open flow of information in society. Lord knows, we've put
    up with one helluva lot of pre-interpreted information while watching the
    US/China thing just now trying to put itself to bed. But, I also think it
    is appropriate for the those with an editorial bent to occasionally make
    statements that reveal their judgements, biases, and so forth, on the flow
    of information. A moderator might step in and summarize things, perhaps
    even drawing to a close some on-going thread. Again, however, that is a
    loaded canon, so to speak.

    With respect to attribution, my thinking has always been that it would be
    best if everyone had an avatar and never actually identified who they are.
    That way, it would be possible to really have a serious discussion going
    between the likes of Nobel laureates, congress persons, spys, school kids,
    and even Ted Kazinsky. One wonders where such a conversation would go. If
    you don't do it that way, it's not long before some big cheese dominates the
    thread, again, inserting tons of personal bias into the thread. My opinion
    here: personal bias is valuable at the outset, but lethal when individuals
    overuse it <note>I hope you realize I'm trying carefully not to overuse

    You have every right to modify that which is contained on your own web page.
    Indeed, reflections of your personal knowledge should be expected to evolve
    over time, and if you don't want others to see the history of your thought
    process, so be it. But, and this is, I think, my point, when you enter a
    discussion (such as this one), I do not think you should have the ability to
    go in and change some statement you make when you later find out you'd
    rather not have somebody find out you were, say, "that stupid." <note>
    imagine how I'm going to feel some years from now when somebody rubs that
    statement in my own nose! </note>. So, as hinted above, there are both
    public and personal information spaces. Nobody should, imho, have editorial
    control of public spaces (within certain limits such as motivated by the
    need to suppress hate messages, threats of death, pornography, and so forth
    -- and those applying only when appropriate, e.g. on discussion lists such
    as this <note>I am saying there are times when censorship has its proper
    role, but not in a knowledge-accretion community where everybody is
    basically aiming at discussion specified kinds of issues</note>).

    Do I have expectations that my diatribe will end this thread? I have great
    hopes that it will not do that. It seems to me that we are now tapping into
    the roots of collective wisdom building. Nothing could be more important.


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