I agree with your analysis that recognizes significant value of people, like
librarians, who interpret inquiries and direct resources for performing work
My own pet peeve is "call routing" that has become popular the past few years.
It comes in several flavors, some of it that wastes time chasing blind alleys on
the Internet under the guise of being "intuitive."
Different people describe the same things in many different ways, and each of us
describe the same thing differently on different occasions, based on near term
context. Having 5 choices with 5 levels that have 5 choices each, results in a
lot of people spending a lot of time pressing buttons to the wrong place,
starting over a few times, then giving up. Money saved from providing a
responsible person, like the librarian in your example, who can direct disparate
inquiries in a way that aligns with organizational culture, is lost in customers
losing time, then giving up. Some people feel that if the problem is not
important enough for the customer to call back and waste more time clicking
buttons, then it does not justify resolution. However, unresolved problems do
not disappear. As reported on 001207, when too many people have too many
problems a critical mass eventually reduces productivity, earnings and stock
prices. It seems like a small thing, but as Aristotle observed some time ago,
even the least deviations compound over time, and eventually explode. Murphy's
Law is blamed, and reengineering to downsize starts the path toward recession,
conflict, crisis and calamity.
Culture is an organic force consisting largely of common ways for describing
things, so that consistent patterns emerge for descriptions of conduct and
groupings, or categories, like you found appealing in the Traction program. The
advantage of specializing, for example in selling software, or manufacturing
cars, drugs, or selling legal services, is that certain things come to be
described the same way over and over, so that when people hear something
described differently by someone outside the culture, they are fairly nimble in
making the correct association, especially after getting more context. That
capability is missing from "intuitive" call routing systems.
A similar challenge arises in considering whether to click on a link in a
letter. My own approach is to empower people with the opportunity to obtain
support, if time and circumstances justify further research. An example would
be to click on the following to find out more on implementing this concept,
summarized as "clear, concise, complete communication" using the practice of
"judicious review," from the record on 990419.....
Obviously, no one has a gun to anyone's head that forces clicking on a link;
and, unlike the case of "call routing," there is no urgency to click on a link
in order to take timely action, yet still there seem to be a lot of complaints
about too many links, leading to calls for "rated links," or alternatively, some
demand printed material in order to avoid the burden of incurring a duty of
knowledge, as a result of having notice. Communication provides guidance on
taking action toward meeting objectives, requirements and commitments. If
action is taken, there is no need to click on a link. If action seems to
require more support, then one might be encouraged to investigate further, and
in that case a link provides immediate support, i.e., it would seem to save
time, by providing additional context, similar to the librarian you mentioned in
your letter today.
At least that is the theory. In striving to augment intelligence by
strengthening alphabet technology, i.e., more commonly, "literacy," a lot of
help is needed to understand problems people encounter using the record, and to
devise modalities for effective deployment. So, I have taken a moment here to
present an issue in relation to a related problem that is familiar to you, and
wonder if you can explain what more can be done to make communication clear,
concise and complete, beyond empowering people with access to context that is
accessible at their time and convenience, and is summarized and linked to
relevant details, emulating the architecture of human thought, and how a system
of "ratings" can be applied to links that takes less time and expense? How does
the mind rate its connections?
Eric Armstrong wrote:
> "N. C a r r o l l" wrote:
> > ....As I came to realize in meeting crackerjack
> > information science folks, the card catalog was just the beginning
> > of search, because at a good library, the reference librarian *is*
> > the thesaurus, making the bridge between the rigidity of the catalog,
> > and the vague, unformed hollow in the searcher's knowledge.
> > Or, if you will: making the bridge between concept and hierarchy.
> I was always astonished at how often a librarian was able to translate
> my typically-
> uniformed query into search terms that produced highly useful results --
> both in my
> early years when card catalogs were all there was, and even much later
> with computerized
> search engines.
> It's one reason for my vision of a human-mediated FAQ tool. Where the
> responds to my query with what IT thinks, I reply "that sucks", after
> which an
> ontologist looks over the query and then translates it -- in a way that
> educates me
> and the computer at the same time, so that is then able to answer one
> more uninformed
> query than it was previously able to do.
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