Dynamic Alternatives

Date: Mon, 14 Jan 2002 13:39:49 -0800

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

Subject:   SDS Action Items to Consider

Dear Rod,

You suggested [in your letter today on goals for KM and alignment with SDS] possible action items to further investigation of involvement in SDS.

The linking procedure described does indeed create a link to the document.

Now, is there an algorithm for generating the reference designations that you use, or are they an SDS artifact?

  1. Linking communications to the record.

    This is an attempt. All I can say for it is that it is possible but far from easy. As you say, SDS would make it all work, err ... like it does in SDS.

  2. Possible contribution.

    While I am impressed with what you have accomplished with SDS and do believe that it should be expanded and improved, I am afraid that I am not willing to take a really active role in it's evolution. The last few weeks have given me a bleak look at how little discretionary time I really have. You can see evidence in my generally slow response to email. I can dash off a quick replay as readily as anyone, but when I have to give some thought to the reply, there is always a time issue.

    SDS would be of little or no use to the segment of Boeing in which I work. My colleague and I have been unable to get them to manage such critical knowledge as balancing inputs and outputs among requirements documents and getting names to be uniform and correct. If they are unwilling to maintain the knowledge necessary to the production of the major artifacts that they are supposed to be doing under contract, the level of KM that SDS could provide is simply beyond their comprehension as to why anyone would want to. I am not personally in the middle of sufficient information flow for demonstrating the possibilities to be effective.

    While I would be interested in trying SDS, I can't see that I can offer anything that constitutes an equal exchange - I have no way of introducing SDS into anyplace that can pay for it directly, and I am on a different path, at least until I get some of my ideas realized.

    I will certainly continue to work with you on ideas and possible directions for evolution, for whatever that may be worth.

  3. Vision and goals for KM. Some of this will be repetitive.

    1. Personal KM

      All KM must start as personal KM. If I can't organize my own knowledge, I have little to share with anyone else. The idea that we can derive knowledge by having lots of people dump bits and pieces into a large heap and that it will spontaneously self-organize is ludicrous, and yet that is the flavor of the formal KM initiatives.

      Before we stand a chance of enhancing collective intelligence, we must be able to enhance effective individual intelligence. A collaboration among a few individual who can think is far more likely to be effective than any collaboration where the vast majority of the participants who can't. For evidence, look at any email list or newsgroup that isn't task oriented in some way - nearly no signal.

      I follow the discussions in the group even though they, too, largely seem to forget about individuals, because the data structures that evolve will be more general than I need but could still forma an important part of the toolset that I want.

      From a personal perspective, I have accumulated a lot of knowledge that I want to be able to organize, present, and, possibly later, collaborate on. I am pursuing tools to do that because the work situation continues to indicate that I need to become self-sustaining, which I am not at this time.

      What I want for myself is something of the following:

      1. A good outliner that supports a heading and a multi-paragraph body.

      2. Item clones so the same node can be in multiple places.

      3. The information in the paragraphs to be addressable at least to the paragraph level. No current outliner does this.

      4. Links to any other paragraph in the entire outline, to any external link, or external programs.

      5. Transclusion at least at the outline element level.

      6. Keyword search. Supporting either a faceted thesaurus or Topic Map structure.

      7. Preferably a named keyword search as is envisioned in RDF.

      8. Ability to publish the results to a paper, to HTML or to a website structure with something like purple numbers.

      It doesn't seem likely that I can get addressibility below the outline item easily. I can get many of the features by writing glue code to access existing tools. (I should be able to take a simple outliner such as TreePad Plus and map it to a wiki type site, for example).

      Then I need a way to use several outlines over an addressable database of nodes. That can com later if I can get these pieces to work.

      I am engaged in a search for a combination of tools that will allow me to make progress toward capturing and presenting my ideas. I know that at the present time I will have to use a multiplicity of tools, sometimes in combination and often a different combination depending on the task at hand. Once I have a workable initial set, I need to develop the habit of devoting time to

      1. the construction of the presentations,

      2. the creation of small tools to help the tools interoperate or to generate specific inputs or outputs.

      3. Try to convince the tool creators to make simple modifications to their tools that will make my life easier.

      4. Build another tool that does all the things I want assuming that I am not going to be able to get anyone to put all of my ideas together except me.

    2. Small team collaboration

      Once I have a way to express myself with adequate richness, the next step is to support the collaboration of a small team - particularly a software development team. This would be a private collaboration limited to the specific members of the team, with some specific products being exported for other purposes.

      For this purpose, I am interested in the peer-to-peer technologies. I dislike solutions that require central servers because getting the required control over one involves expense and expertise that I don't want to expend.

      Your comments [in a letter today] on the progress of alphabet technology are well taken.

      While often only a few can blaze a trail, it takes a team to do the rest, and, especially in the beginning, this requires good faith collaboration. We are now working to forge that faith.

      I agree. That is why I want to start with individuals and then small teams. I don't have any hope that sweeping changes in large organizations can be accomplished. Individuals and small groups will adopt a technology if they can see benefit in it. So, for example, where Jack Park is interested in changing the educational system, I consider that a dream and would concentrate on home schoolers and life-long learners who have something to gain from new ideas instead of a pathological resistance to them.

I really wish I had the resources in time and energy to support SDS or any other endeavor, but I have to get this part of my toolset managed. This has been a focus of mine for years. Just about the time I was about to decide that I had no choice but to build what I want myself, something would come along that would solve the immediate problem for a while. That has happened often enough that I am now convinced that there will not be a time in the foreseeable future when the tools I want will exist unless I build them myself. Thus the idea is to get a toolset that will allow me to limp along while I improve it and eventually replace it.



Dynamic Alternatives

Garold (Gary) L. Johnson

Copy to:

  1. Morris Jones, morris.jones@intel.com