Re: [unrev-II] Semantic Community Web Portal

From: Alex Shapiro (
Date: Wed Sep 12 2001 - 17:54:00 PDT

  • Next message: Rod Welch: "[unrev-II] Semiotics of terrorism Evolving Solutions"


    Exactly on all points.

    >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 envision an application similar to Quest map, where responses are
    displayed as nodes on a graph. With time, older nodes fade (or become more
    remote in some other way) and eventually disappear. Nodes can be kept
    visible, or if invisible then returned to visibility, by linking to them.

    The interesting thing about a visual discussion forum, is that one can
    respond to multiple messages, or even form links between existing ones,
    rather then just adding content by responding to a single message.

    >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.

    My vision of this one, is that only the most relevant points are actually
    shown as part of the graph. New responses, and ones that are not deemed
    valuable, can be accessed from a drop down list at every node. It is also
    at this point where readers can vote to transform a message the is
    currently only accessible in this way, into a node rather then a menu option.

    > 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.

    Yup. Summaries are very important. A summary can be another type of post
    that is encouraged by users, and that references all the nodes that it
    summarizes. Another way to display summaries, is like hints (the way the
    TG LinkBrowser does it). Basically, users can either be explicitly forced
    to summarize, or an option could exist for others to summarize for them.

    > 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.

    I haven't thought about the question-answer structure here, but voting is
    definitely important. To be honest, I would explore the possibilities of a
    less structured discussion then one where nodes are labeled as
    questions/answers. Then again, the question/answer division might be very
    natural and easy to implement.

    >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.)

    The ultimate goal as I see it is the creation of a "Collaborative
    Rewritable Document Editor".

    We've got code reuse, but not text reuse. So much time is wasted by
    scientists and journalists all over the place on simply rewriting what has
    been said before them. Wouldn't it be nice if people were able to settle
    on an accepted description of a certain issue, and then refer back to it,
    rather then rewriting the material. This would create symbolism on a
    higher lever then just words. Paragraphs would come to be reusable
    tokens. If someone thinks that they could say it better, then they could
    try, and then people could vote on which version they like. Ok, I have
    more to say on this issue, but I need time to gather my thoughts. Maybe if
    someone disagrees, it would help me to form a response.


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