R. Max Wideman
2216 West 21st Avenue
Vancouver, BC V6L 1J5

November 1, 1997

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

Subject:  Communication Metrics
                Cognitive Science Needs Consideration
Dear Rod,

In your letter dated Oct 31, 1997, you wrote:

>Did you get the USACE report on Cost Savings I sent by mail last week, ref c?
>Did it cover some of your questions when we talked on Oct 7, ref d?

Yes, I did, thanks, but I have not had time to study it yet.

>151723 - Max needs to observe the SDS environment on-line
>151726 - Russ Archibald observed SDS and found it more expansive than expected

Yes, I know Russ.  I was interested in his remarks (that you reported
subsequently.)  When did that take place?   Is that 1990?

>1510 - Summary/Objective
>1511 -
>151103 - Max requests support on the grounding of Communication Metrics in
>151104 - Cognitive Science.  He raises important concerns about providing
>151105 - justification for these fundamentals.  Apart from the fact that a new
>151106 - system of knowledge by definition is difficult to initially convey, I
>151107 - have failed to provide a clear, concise and complete explanation that
>151108 - fits within the time available for review.  This is another dimension
>151109 - of limited span of attention.

Alternatively, it could just mean that the subject matter has either not yet
reached a point of sufficient maturity and clarity for satisfactory
communication, or is just not being delivered with sufficient clarity.

Remember, that responsibility for the correct reception of the message rests on
the communicator rather than on the communicatee.

>151109 - ...One way of trying to overcome this limitation
>151110 - is using summaries linked to detail.  But for people who are not used
>151111 - to detailed research, and who have very limited in time, this is not
>151112 - sufficient.  Another way would be to migrate SDS skills, but this too
>151113 - takes time. I will ask Max what he thinks would be a good solution.

It does depend on who you are dealing with.  In my case, I am only
satisfied by logical and demonstrable argument.

>151507 - Need Support on Meaning and Justification for Communication Metrics
>151508 - -------------------------------------------------------------------
>151509 - The letter to Max sets out a need to explain cognitive Science in
>151510 - relation to management science, which people seem to have difficulty
>151511 - with, as noted by Max in our discussion on 971024, when he described
>151512 - cognitive science as "ephemeral," ref SDS 32 line 253.
>151513 -
>151514 - This disconnect is reflected in Max's letter received today on the
>151515 - definition of Communication Metrics, first developed on 950327, ref
>151516 - SDS 3 line 152.
>151517 -
>151518 - Max cites:
>151519 -
>151520 -  1.  Communication Metrics uses a theory of the mind as a process to
>151521 -      accumulate chunks of experience within a span of attention, and
>151522 -      to use that experience for analysing and organizing new
>151523 -      information to grow new knowledge.
>151524 -
>151525 -  2.  This improves ephemeral workings of the mind that cause rework
>151526 -      by providing consistency (accuracy) and expanding span of
>151527 -      attention.
>151528 -
>151529 -  3.  Writing of course expands span of attention.
>151530 -
>151531 -  4.  Conventional writing in computers uses traditional analogs
>151532 -      (e.g., documents, files, etc.) that are too slow for the faster
>151533 -      pace and complexity of modern life.
>151534 -
>151535 -  5.  Communication Metrics provides a key advance by integrating
>151536 -      time and information.
>151537 -

>151538 - He then says:
>151539 -
>151540 -      I have difficulty with those statements.  Can you really justify
>151541 -      them?  In fact, when I think about them, I am not sure what they
>151542 -      mean. (If the foundation is not solid, the superstructure will
>151543 -      not be safe.) ref DRT 1 line 37.

I confirm that this continues to be my position.

>... Max seems to be saying,
>151582 - "Rod, you have given me information, but I need some connections
>151583 - (justification) in order to acquire "knowledge" -- to truly know what
>151584 - you have in mind.

Well, that might be another way of putting it, but it doesn't answer the

Let's look at item 1 more closely, for example

>151621 - Taking each of Max's listings from my letter...
>151622 -

"1. Communication Metrics /uses a theory of the mind /as a process /to accumulate chunks of experience within a span of attention, /and to use that experience for analysing and organizing /new information /to grow new knowledge./

'Communication Metrics' - granted that this is a new concept (Although 'Metrics' means measuring something against a 'baseline' - presumably measuring the communication against some prior baseline. How does *measuring* communication in this way help?)

'uses a theory of the mind' - what theory exactly?

'as a process' - how can a theory be used as a process?

'to accumulate chunks of experience within a span of attention, ' - presumably that is intended to imply a *limited* span of attention?

If that is true, then presumably 'and to use that experience for analysing and organizing' implies that the extent of 'experienced' analysed and organized will also be limited?

The 'new information' is presumably the experience referred to in the previous question?

How does that in fact 'grow new knowledge' ?

There seems to be general acceptance (?) that the average individual is only able to add about 10% new knowledge to that individual's existing base of established knowledge - leading to a dramatic compounding, or acceleration in accumulation progress. By the same token, however, that compounding, if interrupted, leads to a massive 'rework' to recover, even assuming that recovery is possible. This effect is known as the learning curve, the mathematics of which, although controversial, is fairly well established from scientific observation.

This last, it seems to me, sets the limitations (for the average individual) on the ability of Communication Metrics (CM) to assist. I am inclined to concur with Russ that the merit of the process, as adequately demonstrated, is in the ability to call up prior reference, discussion and information.

With the same effort, it should be possible to achieve the same ends using intranet hypertext technology, such as can now be fully experienced on any web site.


R. Max Wideman

Yesterday is history, tomorrow is mystery, today is a gift. That's why it's called "The present". 10/6