RE: [unrev-II] Collaborative Discussion Tools

From: Garold L. Johnson (
Date: Sun Apr 15 2001 - 06:23:14 PDT

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

    Bernard Vatant wrote

    An effective Knowledge construction is bound to be chaordic - <> - maintaining its activity in
    the dynamic zone between chaos and order - the life zone.

    What should I do with a new object to ensure that? In a Topic Map or
    Semantic Graph spirit, consider it as a new node in my knowledge graph. And
    make sure to link it immediately to existing nodes through existing semantic
    link types. That is always possible: if a new object has really not a single
    implicit link to objects already existing in my knowledge universe, I'm just
    not aware of it. All I have to do is explicit this link. So I anchor this
    object, not in a single folder, but in an array of links to other objects.
    What will be in the long run the status of this object will depend in fact
    on the further evolution of this link array. Maybe this object will remain a
    weakly linked node, in some peripheric region of my knowledge field, or
    maybe it will become a central node for a new continent, maybe needing some
    new type of links to be structured.

    In that perspective, a Topic Map or Semantic Graph organization is much more
    effective than a hierarchical folders representation, because you don't need
    the fuzzy "uncategorized" category. In fact you barely need categories, or
    you see them not like folders (with the knowledge trapped inside them) but
    like binding points or attractors (with the knowledge living around them).
    If I had a real system to manage my e-mail this way, Gads I would be a lot
    happier than with my MS Outlook folders!
    [Garold L. Johnson] Anchoring a new object in an array of links to other
    objects is indeed the goal. The issue is time and timeliness. When I come
    across a 50-70 page paper on a topic that was never designed to integrate
    into my system, I can tell that it is worthwhile, and that I want to deal
    with it, but not now. That paper is not yet knowledge, it is information or
    possibly only data. In my personal efforts it probably has a very general
    connection to my knowledge universe, maybe only an approximation to a place
    in my mental topic map, so I mark it for later. If I am collaborating with
    others, I share the paper as soon as I find it rather than waiting to
    process it completely.
    When I get to the paper (if I had the tools) I would likely link pieces of
    it to all sorts of places in my knowledge structure. However, I can’t do
    that without studying the paper, understanding what it says and
    (progressively) linking it to the rest of what my system “knows” about the
    topic(s) of the paper. I may well be adding linkages after several times
    through the paper as my understanding increases and as I gain greater
    I certainly agree that nearly any graph-based system would be better than
    strictly hierarchical folders, but that still doesn’t eliminate the need for
    *some* mechanism for classifying an object as “interesting, but later” and
    processing it later or even over time. Clearly it is better to get as much
    linkage into the knowledge base as possible, but that simply doesn’t happen
    in my world.
    Any system that requires too much load on new introductions will fail – this
    is very much the problem that people were seeing with IBIS – people were
    unwilling to classify their input into a single category or to structure it
    Conjecture: I think that part of this comes from the lousy tools usually
    provided to generate and manipulate information at the time of creation, but
    that even elegant tools won’t solve the problem completely.
    My preferred mechanism for generating documents involves work with a good
    outliner (which is DOS text based and requires processing afterwards). I don
    ’t do that for emails, so I am stuck with the tools that my email client
    has. This editor has an outline mode, which I could use, but it doesn’t do
    well at all mixing my input in with the message to which I am replying. In
    addition, doing a good outline is generally more than I set out to do in the
    beginning (it is part of my refactoring process) and it doesn’t help in
    collaboration as much as it might. If this email were going into a system
    where it had purple or plink run on it (possibly even as I submitted it if
    the client were bright enough), then doing a better job of structuring would
    be of real benefit to myself and the group. Unfortunately, we don’t yet have
    Until we get better tools, and possibly even then, I think we need a
    mechanism to fold large nodes into the system on a gradual basis.


    Garold (Gary) L. Johnson
    DYNAMIC Alternatives <>

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