[unrev-II] Semantic Technology for Complexity

From: Rod Welch (rowelch@attglobal.net)
Date: Wed Sep 12 2001 - 21:14:45 PDT

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    Good observation that graphics for managing what folks loosely call "ontology"
    oversimplifies the problem of managing context. Would be great to see someone
    come forward with an "ontology" for a few paragraphs of a letter, an article, a
    book. Then organize ontology for a phone call, a meeting, analysis of a
    broadcast or a report on a professional event. Then expand the ontology for
    more calls, letters, etc. Very soon, in a matter of hours or days, the
    complexity of organizing even a tiny fraction of daily life becomes
    overwhelming, as Jack noted in a letter on 000221.


    Eric Armstrong wrote:
    > Alex Shapiro wrote:
    > > ...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.
    > Quite reasonable. That's a different kind of prioritizing -- a "fading
    > to oblivion",
    > but it seems quite useful.
    > > > a) In any series of sibling nodes, the highest-rated comes first.
    > >
    > > My vision of this one, is that only the most relevant points are
    > > actually
    > > shown as part of the graph.
    > I'm still of the opinion that a graphic display mechanism only works for
    > small demos,
    > because the complexity quickly grows too great with respect to the
    > available display
    > area. Given whiteboard-sized LCDs, I *may* be persuaded to change my
    > mind.
    > (I'll have to see, to be sure it works.) But I'm pretty darn certain
    > that graphic displays
    > of complex, interrelated information, simply will not fly with today's
    > display devices.
    > > > 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
    > > >alternatives
    > > > 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.
    > >From another post, I argue that it is important to allow structures with
    > no typing
    > at all -- the classical outline structure. But it should also be
    > possible to add those
    > types in proactively or retroactively.
    > > 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.
    > I think that is close to a good definition of the target. But it needs
    > to carry
    > connotations of "conversation" and "document aggregation", as well. My
    > "HowTo" folders contain dozens of messages with little factoids I've
    > gathered
    > on various subjects. That knowledge base needs to be sharable and
    > searchable.
    > Interestingly, its contents probably need to be sortable by people using
    > rating scales. As a beginner, the "10 things I need to know to get
    > started" would
    > be the most important. Later on, the "8 things I keep forgetting how to
    > do" would
    > be the critical information. At an an advanced stage, the "6 things that
    > only experts
    > know about" would want to be sorted at the top. As I progress between
    > those
    > stages, the items I consider valuable would be organically changing,
    > with new and
    > interesting items at the top.
    > Such ratings are context-dependent. My rating of a particular thing
    > depends on
    > my use for it. There are also "intrinsic ratings", but I'm not sure how
    > to represent
    > both in the same system. To clarify the difference:
    > a) The hammer is bad (relative to some ideal hammer standard)
    > --An intrinsic rating for a hammer build with a 5lb sledge-head
    > and a
    > pencil-thin handle. It simply ain't gonna work. It's going to
    > break, and
    > be useless, so don't waste your money on it.
    > b) The hammer is bad (relative to the task of cutting a board in two).
    > --You can use the hammer, but you'll get lots of splinters and
    > jagged
    > edges. A saw is much better for the purpose you have in mind.
    > Thinking as I write (as usual), it seems clear that a rating is always
    > relative
    > to *something*, and the concept of a rating should probably include a
    > referent that identifies the nature of the rating.
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