Re: [ba-ohs-talk] Organic Growth of Knowledge
Great post, Murray. Starting from the end.... (01)
1. I always sound the pessimist when someone presents me with an
idea, too. One of my more insightful managers once commented
that when he asks me if I can do something, I always give him
10 reasons why not. Then I come back a day or two later and
tell him how it can be done. (02)
That's just one of the burdens of intellect. You can *immediately*
see the problems, with total clarity, right away. Only reflection
and deeper insight lead to an appreciation of and visualization of
the potential for solution. I think "optimism" is a just a sense that
something is on the right track, and that solutions will be found.
(But that only arrives after first defeating the initial pessism!) (03)
2. Yes, the concept of "librarians as ontologists" makes perfect sense.
That's the way I had been thinking for quite a while, but of course
there is a huge volume of one, relatively few of the other. (04)
The concept "support staff as librarians" is an extension that
greatly increases the solution set. (05)
3. In no way was "lazy" intended as perjorative. It's the foundation
of civilization, in my book. I'll work *incredibly* hard at
automating a task now, so I can be lazy and just press a button
in the future. (I abhor manual tasks.) I finally figured out the
rationale behind that stance -- I get to work on an interesting
problem now, instead of performing a manual task, and I free
up more time to work on interesting problems later! (06)
Murray Altheim wrote: (07)
> Eric Armstrong wrote:
> > It is here that the *Brilliant Idea*(TM) enters in.
> > Using a form of intellectual judo, I propose accumulating topical
> > classifications organically, precisely because they let people be
> > *lazy*.
> I think this is a necessary and pragmatic presumption for success.
> I wouldn't call it necessarily "lazy" though, as in my experience
> working as a consultant at a university, the faculty I was helping
> were already overburdened -- they didn't want to have to learn any
> new tools or technologies -- they just wanted the job to get done.
> When people come to search for content, they already have a task
> in front of them, they don't want the search itself to become
> another task. It should be almost invisible.
> > The people most motivated to do so, I believe, are people doing support,
> > because accessible knowledge can save them from having to spend their
> > time answering the same question over and over and....
> > But a knowledge base that makes it possible for people to find answers
> > themselves requires a lot of categorization and extra overhead.
> > So my suggestion (and prediction) is that support personnel will become
> > ontologists. Whenever a user query fails to find an answer that the
> > support personnel, with their superior intelligence, *can* find, they
> > will take a moment to make make the KB a little "smarter".
> > They may add a concept to the ontology, refine a scope, or use existing
> > ontology entries to further categorize extant information, so it can be
> > more easily found in the future.
> > Over time, knowledge will accrete, because the "extra effort" entailed
> > in categorizing will be paid back with an overall savings in effort.
> I would suggest this idea be taken to the library community, who
> already perform many of these amazing feats, though usually enabled
> by what's in an experienced librarian's head. Being able to augment
> what a librarian (or library) does in ways similar to your description
> above seems like a very reasonable (and tractable) project.
> > One can imagine measurement systems, in fact, that track ontology
> > changes and categorizations, and rate personnel on the number of
> > questions automatically answered in a satisfactory manner as a result
> > of the interventions.
> > I believe the whole system is expedited by purple numbers, even though
> > they are not a necessary precondition. With them, sections of existing
> > material can be easily categorized, without having to break it up into
> > multiple parts. That makes it lot easier to incorporate existing
> > documents, without having to build the KB from scratch.
> > But if one were to invest extra effort in building the KB, it would be
> > possible to get by without the fine grained addressing that purple
> > numbers provide.
> In a library situation, resources are already tracked. It may be that
> granularity of those resources is at issue, but perhaps not. It sounds
> to a great degree like a classical search problem in the end.
> But on the whole, it does sound a bit brilliant! Too bad it'd likely
> be a product rather than a new way of functioning. We don't need any
> more products. And with the US patent office and scores of lawyers,
> anyone attempting to work in that arena would be sued. (gad, do I
> sound the pessimist lately!) I need some of your optimism, Eric.
> Murray Altheim <http://kmi.open.ac.uk/people/murray/>
> Knowledge Media Institute
> The Open University, Milton Keynes, Bucks, MK7 6AA, UK
> If it wants to be a global power and a player in the
> Atlantic alliance, Europe has to get back into the
> business of making war. -- Newsweek Magazine, June 3, 2002 (08)