Re: [unrev-II] Recommendations??

From: Eric Armstrong (
Date: Wed Oct 03 2001 - 17:25:30 PDT

  • Next message: Jack Park: "Re: [unrev-II] Recommendations??"

    Somehow, I added 400 and 200 and got 700.
    Oh well... As the bridge builder said, looking at his
    trusses in the river, The theory was valid -- it was only
    the decimal point that was wrong.

    Eric Armstrong wrote:

    > Jack P:
    > You've posted some 400 messages to the list (or maybe it
    > was 500 -- I started losing track after 300 or so), most of which
    > point to some impressive, cool, or potentially useful technology.
    > John D:
    > You've posted in the neighborhood of 200 messages, most all
    > of which point to some powerful, cool, potentially useful
    > technology.
    > These pointers would be very useful, if I had anything like the kind
    > of time it takes to track down some 700 relative technologies,
    > understand what they are about, and figure out how they can be
    > applied.
    > However, I do not have that time. And as great as it is that you
    > keep finding new, interesting, useful, and cool technologies, I find
    > myself realizing that I am never going to be able to know how the
    > latest revelation compares with, or may possibly interact with, any
    > of the other 700 recommendations.
    > The "information explosion" exhibited by these pointers alone
    > illustrates some of the *vital* requirements for a useful
    > collaboration
    > tool:
    > 1) Categories
    > When recommendation "X" comes in, it needs to come in with
    > a category (or multiple categories) or, better, categories need
    > to
    > be retroactively applied, so I can tell which recommendations
    > achieve similar goals, or perform similar functions.
    > 2) Ratings
    > There is no way on God's green earth I am going to investigate
    > 700 recommendations, until and unless that is my paid job
    > function
    > (at which point I will be more than happy to undertake the
    > task).
    > Until that I occurs, I *must* have ratings for these things, so
    > I
    > can idendify "best of breed" in each category.
    > 3) Combinations
    > If someone can say, "we can combine technology X with
    > technology Y to do Z". That new combination can then
    > be categorized and rated, so it can be compared with
    > combinations X and M, or combination M and N and P.
    > At this point, I find myself in the exact same position as the CIA.
    > Someone will always be able to say, in retrospect, "see, I told you
    > it could be done using X", for any "it" and an "X", where "X" is one
    > of more than 1,000 alternatives that are buried in the list, once
    > everyone's contributions are taken into account.
    > However, the current system will only allow that recognition to be
    > achieve retroactively. When one person with a limited number of
    > technologies at their disposal figures out how to make something
    > work (because they aren't spending their life evaluating
    > alternatives),
    > then it will be clear that "we had the information" in our possession.
    > However, our ability to proactively identify that solution by
    > examination
    > of the combinatorial explosion of possibilities before us is
    > negligible,
    > at best.
    > A system that allows for categorizing, rating, and creating new
    > combinations
    > will allow that proactive identification of solutions, because any one
    > person
    > can contribute a small quantum knowledge (consisting of a combination
    > or a rating), and that quantum can be compared with other relevant
    > quanta (via categorization, which juxtapose related bits of
    > information).
    > Without such a system, I find myself in a hopeless quagmire. There are
    > too many options to consider, so "paralysis by analysis" becomes a
    > real
    > threat, were I ever to feel optimistic enough to attempt a foray.
    > Given
    > that any one combination is likely to prove untenable, the only way to
    > feel optimistic enough to make an attempt is to know that, even though
    > my approach will most likely fail, the result will be knowledge added
    > to
    > the system that help others steer clear, and the expectation that with
    > all of us evaluating one combination or another, *some* combination
    > may
    > very well succeed.
    > But, absent the ability to share my results in a way that others can
    > learn
    > from, in a repository from which I will reap the eventual rewards of a
    > solved problem, how can I begin to choose from among the 700
    > alternatives
    > offered to me? How can I begin to focus on one, knowing at the outset
    > that the effort may well be doomed at the outset and that, at the end
    > of
    > the process, I simply will not know which other combinations may have
    > a greater chance of success. How can I even begin to figure out which
    > combinations to use, when I have no sense of categories which to
    > construct
    > a partial ordering of the options?
    > Recommendations, anyone?
    > eric
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