Mary Keeler

Date: Tue, 18 Jul 2000 09:57:17 -0700 (PDT)

Mr. Rod Welch
The Welch Company
440 Davis Court #1602
San Francisco, CA 94111 2496

Subject:   Re: Semiotics, Alignment and High Tech

Dear Rod,

[Responding to your letter to Professor Joseph Ransdell on July 13, 2000...]

Five new puppies and other homefront concerns have not given me time to respond to your previous questions [in your letter to me on June 24, 2000] about practical applications of Peirce's philosophy to knowledge management problems.

One reason I have not had time is that an adequate response would take time to sort out the issues and the confusions of current thinking in that realm of work.

I have been working for years with a group that might interest you: the International Conceptual Structures community. They hold conferences every year (see this year's announcement for the one coming up in August, below). They have been developing many successful practical applications, based on Peirce's existential graphs and his pragmatism, but still do not grasp the fundamental issues adequately (I believe).

The primary problem for AI, KR, and KM (as I see it) is that they do not benefit from crucial philosophical understanding of the problems they address, and struggle along "re-creating the wheel" (in very primitive form). Philosophers are certainly partly to blame for this, but it seems to be a modern fashion to assume that we can start from sratch on everything and hope to get somewhere (arrogant, to say the least). Remember, I quoted Devlin saying that "Information-age man knows as much about information as Iron-age man knew about iron"? Well,

I think Peirce's philosophy can help us in that basic understanding--before we launch into practical experiments that are not well conceived. Of course, we can try to continue to learn by trial and error but, surely, we can do better.

Joe Ransdell is certainly the one to help you do that!

Here's that URL: Here's that URL:

Best wishes,



Mary Keeler

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