Re: [unrev-II] Semantic Community Web Portal

From: Eric Armstrong (
Date: Wed Sep 12 2001 - 13:48:39 PDT

  • Next message: Jack Park: "Re: [unrev-II] Semantic Community Web Portal"

    -------- Original Message --------
    Subject: Re: [unrev-II] Semantic Community Web Portal
    Date: Sat, 08 Sep 2001 14:14:43 -0700
    From: Eric Armstrong <>
    References: <>

    You're there, Jack. You have arrived.The target is a system that
      a) Is as easy and comfortable to use as email.
      b) Is as browsable and well-organized as well-crafted web pages.

    How does that happen? The answer, I believe, is what I have been
    calling "maleable archives". The old discussions are still around, and
    can even be viewed chronologically, if desired. But the bedrock of the
    system is an archive in which decisions and useful information, instead
    of being buried at the bottom of a thread, are hoisted to the top.

    I see several ways for that hoisting to occur:
       a) In any series of sibling nodes, the highest-rated comes first.
           So if we have 3 alternatives to a question, the one that is most
           well-liked comes to the fore. Or, if there are 3 questions, the
           one that most important questions (as determined by ratings)
           come first.

       b) Summary-attempts *replace* the threads they summarize in
           the hierarchy. The previous material is subsumed under the
           summary. That summary may be amended directly, or a
           counter-summary may be offered. In that scenario, a summary
           is always an "alternative" or "idea" that permits other items
           to live in parallel.

      c) Some sort of voting activity takes place, either within the system
          or outside of it, and an alternative (aka idea) is promoted to
          the level of "answer". At that point, it goes way up to the top.
          ALL of the questions it answers (since it may well be a solution
          to more than one problem, move UNDER that item, under the
          heading "Why".

          Under each of those questions, in turn, come all of the
          that were considered, as well as the reasoning surrounding the
          eventual selection.

    Each of these operations has slightly different benefits:
      a) Ratings move important/useful/well-regarded material to the front,
          where it is more easily found. It also helps to narrow your search

          when time is limited.

       b) Summaries allow for more readable, better-organized synopses,
           which improve the browsing experience. (For example, when you
           are catching up on a group's activity.)

       c) Promotions simplify the top level of the hierarchy, so that what
           known/what has been decided is right at the top. But the answer
           to the all-important WHY is still available, along with all of
           alternatives that were considered -- and that is information
           that NO current design methodology captures adequately!

    (Thatnls for your post, Jack. It brought the items above in a clearer
    focus than they've ever had for me.)

    Jack Park wrote:

    > I have a confession to make.
    > I have a login password for Bernard's web site. I have yet to use
    > it. Why? Because I am lazy. It is far easier to hit NewMessage in
    > Eudora
    > and type "unrev" and then ship off some gem, than it is to fire up my
    > browser, type in enough of a url to get the browser to remember where
    > I
    > want to go, then log in, then navigate to some appropriate page, then
    > offer
    > up some gem. Eric Armstrong has been right all along: email is
    > easier.
    > But, email is far less useful in a couple of senses: it's not well
    > organized (in contrast to a well-designed web site as is Bernard's),
    > and it
    > tends to allow rambling, which, I think, calls for some structure, as
    > for
    > example IBIS provides. But then, try to put IBIS threads into email
    > and
    > you lose the structure of the discussion; web sites are better for
    > that. So, I conclude, email is easier and for those of us of the lazy

    > persuasion, better. But, I also conclude that, for purposes of
    > logical
    > coherence in discussion and knowledge space, web sites, particularly
    > those
    > designed as knowledge portals like Bernards, are better. Go figure.
    > What would I like to see come out of this? How about something along
    > the
    > lines of a Wiki in the sense that folks can easily jump in and add
    > comments
    > to some web page, but, at the same time, those comments are framed
    > into an
    > email to be shipped off to some favored email list. Oh gads! What a
    > kluge. How about a Wiki that accepts emails and knows how to install
    > them? Probably another kluge. Oh my! How 'bout banning email! What

    > a
    > concept...

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