[unrev-II] Intelligence Integrates Pictures, Text, Time

From: Rod Welch (rowelch@attglobal.net)
Date: Fri Sep 14 2001 - 21:27:20 PDT

  • Next message: Stephen Danic: "[unrev-II] Re: Graphs in Web Community Tools - forum?"


    A useful distinction between pictures and language can be grasped from Eric's
    earlier comment that a picture takes a thousand words to explain.

    Pictures are useful and often critical to daily affairs. The human mind
    interprets pictures by making associations with other pictures and drawing
    inferences of correlations, implications and nuance that apply, adjust and
    expand paradigms, rules, belief, past experience and huge a body of knowledge
    far beyond the confines of a particular picture. Language is a more powerful,
    flexible window into the mind's interpretation than can be achieved by drawing a
    lot of pictures. For example, it is very difficult to draw a picture of a
    concept, or to draw a picture that conveys the meaning of this paragraph, yet
    people readily draw useful meaning from the text. This gives rise to a notion
    of an "alphabetic mind," reviewed on 991108.....


    Since speech is a powerful way to communicate at a much lower, i.e., refined,
    level of detail than is possible from reliance on pictures, an issue arises
    about how to manage what people say and do, since speech and action soon fade
    from memory. Henry van Eykan points out that people rely on remembering only the
    gist of things, about 5% of the actual record. We see some of this in our own
    work on the OHS/DKR, where people say things like, "...I remember so and so said
    a while back something about...., so I really feel thus and so..." The OHS/DKR
    project has not yet begun in earnest, so it is not critical that people do more
    than rely on remembering the gist of things. Since relying on the gist of
    things is fast and easy, like email, there is no evident incentive to improve.

    However, we have seen in recent days that the intelligence community has a lot
    of data and information, but cannot remember more than the gist of things. As
    with the OHS/DKR, so long as no one got hurt, nobody cared. New evidence now
    shows that people care about accurate memory when "the chips are on the line,"
    i.e., accurate understanding of the actual record showing patterns of cause and
    effect impacts important values for guiding timely action. This suggests there
    is demand for "intelligence," which Eric proposed could be augmented, in a
    letter to the team on 000423.

    How then might this be accomplished?

    A textual explanation of what people say and do and hear and see, including any
    pictures, provides organizational memory. Adding analysis to organizational
    memory creates history of cause and effect organized by context, that enables
    people to be prepared to take effective action. Pictures are not conducive to
    this role, but still have a powerful role to preserve impressions and certain
    relationships, as in the design of a building or computer chip, etc.

    In sum, pictures and text alone are not enough. We need to follow Eric's lead
    and develop useful intelligence. Jack, Eric, Eugene, Lee and others seem to be
    working along these lines. The rest of us need to be developing the culture
    and work practices for deployment, as Eugene suggested on 001126. Doug has
    been writing about this for years, so there is no time like the present to get
    started producing useful intelligence.


    "John J. Deneen" wrote:
    > STRONG DISAGREEMENT - "A picture is worth a thousand words."
    > Here's what some world-class scientists say about their need for visualization
    > technology:
    > "We have all experienced the contrast between hearing (or reading) a
    > description of a person's face, as opposed to seeing a
    > picture of the same face. The picture instantly conveys information to our
    > minds which allows us to recognize a familiar
    > individual. The narrative description may never convey enough information to
    > arrive at the same conclusion. This ability of the
    > human mind to rapidly perceive certain types of information, makes information
    > visualization a useful and often necessary tool.
    > Information Visualization is a highly efficient way for the mind to directly
    > perceive data and discover knowledge and insight
    > from it.
    > Information Visualization is the direct visualization of a representation of
    > selected features or elements of complex
    > multi-dimensional data. Data that can be used to create a visualization
    > includes text, image data, sound, voice, video - and of
    > course, all kinds of numerical data. Our visual analysis systems also provide
    > the tools to interact with the data that has been
    > visualized so that users can explore, discover and learn. Users do not look at
    > static images, but can subset the data, run
    > queries, do time sequence studies and create categories and correlations of
    > data type."
    > < http://www.pnl.gov/infoviz/about.html >
    > Examples of important visualization tools:
    > < http://www.pnl.gov/infoviz/technologies.html >
    > Eric Armstrong wrote:
    > > Alex Shapiro wrote:
    > >
    > > > Have you
    > > >
    > > >> > checked
    > > >> > out this paper by the
    > > >> > way? http://www.cs.vu.nl/~frankh/postscript/VSW01.pdf What to you
    > > >> think?
    > > >
    > > The examples in this paper appear to me to reinforce the principles I
    > > posited
    > > in a post quite a while back. Graphics work when there is
    > > * a small set of
    > > * fixed data types
    > > * small sets of relationships
    > >
    > > That allows one icon to be associated with each type. The graph can then
    > > show
    > > patterns or locations of the items. Graphs run into problems in one of
    > > three ways:
    > > 1) When the number of types grows large, there are too many icons to
    > > keep track
    > > of, and no meaningful patterns emerge.
    > > 2) When the number of relationships grows large, the intersecting
    > > lines in any
    > > graphic representation turns the picture into a confusion.
    > > 3) When the number of entries grows large, items are far removed from
    > > each
    > > other, and the other end of any given relationship is rarely
    > > visible in a given
    > > display area.
    > >
    > > I note that the examples used in this paper have exactly two data types:
    > > a location
    > > at the top level of the hierarchy, and something else (presumably a
    > > "job" type) at
    > > the second level of the hierarchy. I note that no information about the
    > > job is
    > > contained in the graph. So the "information content" only goes one
    > > level deep.
    > >
    > > At the top level, the only information is the name of the location.
    > > Presumably, there
    > > is a link to other information that would help to explain why a given
    > > location is good
    > > or bad for jobs, but the graph itself contains little or no pertinent
    > > information on the
    > > subject.
    > >
    > > At the second level of the hierarchy, the *only* information is the
    > > number of jobs.
    > > (Assuming that I am correctly interpreting the intent of the diagrams.)
    > > The
    > > individual bubbles would be useless for keeping track of jobs. They are
    > > already
    > > getting small and hard and select. And it would take different types of
    > > icons to
    > > present any useful information.
    > >
    > > Given these limitations, I don't see how graphing techologies apply at
    > > all to
    > > collaborative design/discussion tools or a knowledge base, given the
    > > huge
    > > volume of information such a tool needs to manage, the vast array of
    > > information types, and the exponentially exploding number of
    > > interconnects.
    > >
    > > Perhaps TheBrain has something that could provoke a change of mind. I
    > > can't say I've seen it (or recall what I saw, if I did). But as a simple
    > > example,
    > > how would any of the information contained in this message be captured
    > > in
    > > a graph? Were it done, in what way would such a graph be of use to
    > > anyone?
    > >
    > > I simply do not see graphing technology as useful in any substantive way
    > >
    > > in a knowledge-engineering context. It's GREAT for visualizing small
    > > systems, which makes it a wonderful tool for teaching. It gives people a
    > >
    > > mental model of the systems. But in actual use? I'm still inclined to
    > > pass,
    > > I'm afraid.
    > >
    > >
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