[unrev-II] Eugene's work: A FAQ-index into an argument

From: Eric Armstrong (eric.armstrong@sun.com)
Date: Sun Sep 16 2001 - 14:43:06 PDT

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    We had a meeting with Eugene the other day, and took a
    look at what he had been hammering on for a while. I have
    to say that I saw it in a whole new light, which previous
    posts on the subject had not adequately brought to my

    In those posts, Eugene described making "dialog maps" of
    conversations. There was a nice graphic version in PNG
    form, and also an HTML version.

    I recall looking at the PNG. Nice, but not too useful. (Diagrams
    with a few words, lines between them, but no embedded links
    that would let you get to the meat of the discussion.)

    I don't recall that I looked at the HTML form. THERE is where
    the real valuable work-product lies.

    Those HTML pages are not HTML renditions of "dialog maps"
    so much as they are FAQ-style indexes into the discussions!!

    In other words, they would make a superb method for collecting
    and codifying the information available in email archives, WITHOUT
    modifying the archives.

    A few salient points woth mentioning:
      * There are thousands of words in the unrev archives that may
         never see the light of day, because its just to damn hard to
         find anything. This mechanism could provide the answer to
         that problem.

      * The archives are plinked (purple numbered). But Eugene has
         the modified mail server to do that as messages are archived,
         as well as tools to plink past archives.

      * It takes a lof of effort to build the map. Basically, each day he
         has to build in the information content from the day's posts.
         I suspect that this will be normal -- that the addition of topic
         maps and structured argumentation methodologies will require,
         and will in fact produce a new profession of, practicing
         ontologists who do this work as their full time job. In addition:
            a) As users get more familiar with it, they will pre-identify
                material as they create it.
            b) Ontologists will also find themselves re-categorizing
                existing material to make it part of the archive.
            c) Ontologiests will be defining ontology-translations, so
                as to do wholesale imports of information in other
            d) Ontologists will monitor results produced by "ontology-
                inspection agents" -- computerized programs that run
                around searching for isomorphic ontologies, with an
                eye towards finding and mining relevant work.

       * Eugene currently uses QuestMap to build the dialog map. The
          results are then converted to an HTML page. That mechanism
          probably makes it difficult for others to massage the FAQ. But
          other mechanisms could be developed, and probably will be,
          once the value of the result is recognized.

       * One thing the system needs to do is to post links to the
          summarized information. Those links would "complete the
          circle" -- the index has pointers into the email archive, and
          the messages would have responses that point to where the
          information is summarized. The most important result of such
          notification pages would be the ability to click a link to see
          how a discussion I have been part of was summarized -- in
          case I want to make changes. (Or maybe become further

      * The methodology is nicely applicable to structured arguments.
         Especially since, as we have observed, the structure tends to
         become apparent after the fact.

      * One of the examples Eugene pointed to was a collection of issues
          that had been discussed in a disparate collection of emails. Since

          IBIS mandated that there had to be a question, he was motivated
          to identify the commonality. He gathered them all under the
          question: "What problems pertain to preserving link integrity",
          thereby coming up with a whole new category to add to the
          ontology (link integrity).

       * The ontology is currently captured as a glossary. So all the
          are present, but relationships among them are intuitively
          rather than made explicit. (But, should we advance to topic maps
          at some point, life may get a lot more interesting.)

       * The glossary pages are maintained as T-Wiki pages, which means
          that anyone can edit them, but they are access-controlled,
          and there is a lot more flexibility for creating links.

    In short, Eugene has come up with some good stuff that may well be the
    first step in constructing a "knowledge base" out of an email archive.

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