440 Davis Court #1602
San Francisco, CA 94111-2496
415 781 5700

March 25, 2002

03 00050 61 02032501

Mr. Garold L. Johnson
Dynamic Alternatives
Subject:   Intelligence Anytime Anywhere on the Internet
Paperless Office a New Way of Thinking and Working

Dear Gary,

Thanks very much for feedback in your letters today commenting on the redundant link feature recently added to SDS. In addition to your guidance, credit also goes to Doug Engelbart for original inspiration in his NLS program developed at SRI, and more recently to Eugene Kim who developed purple numbers based on Doug's earlier work.
Your three (3) letters today submitted via email....

  1. SDS and Purple numbers
  2. Issues with sample "purple number" files
  3. Questions on SDS redundant links

...illustrate significant leverage for improving productivity through better communication and collaboration from applying redundant links in the SDS environment of Knowledge Space (see POIMS and Jack Park's letter on May 3, 2000). Flexible structure and organization in SDS make it possible to convert a larger share of daily working information into useful intelligence that makes communication and collaboration effective.
Many people feel that better communication and collaboration drive productivity of management for saving time and money. These ambitions have been frustrated because improvement has proven harder to accomplish than expected. Peter Drucker makes this point in his book Management Tasks, Responsibilities and Practices reviewed on November 30, 1993. For example, SRI had important discussions with NIH about this subject, reported during a meeting on October 17, 2000. A few months later, Pat Lincoln related slow progress improving collaboration at SRI. A year later, Eric Armstrong worried on October 3, 2001 that productivity is paralyzed because it is too hard to find anything; a short time after Eric's report, Enron collapsed because it could not align daily work with objectives, requirements and commitments, reported on February 4, 2002.
For many years, SDS has provided a new way of working intelligently, as noted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on March 28, 1997 (see as well Eric Armstrong's letter on September 16, 2001, and on September 24 comments by Morris Jones). Similarly, Gary's initial experience today using redundant links indicates a further boost in productivity by making it faster and easier for people, who do not have enough time to work with SDS, to none-the-less benefit from organizational memory, based on stronger addressability that Doug called out in a letter on April 5, 2000.
Knowledge Management will remain hard work capturing the record, crafting an effective story for shared meaning and tending the garden of knowledge. Like fixing the car, mowing the lawn, accounting, writing a novel, medical and legal work, or engineering to design software, buildings, and an effective national security, skills, tools and time must be applied diligently in order for KM to be effective helping people. SDS makes it faster and easier, but converting information into knowledge is still hard work, as the Colloquium heard on March 7, 2000. As well, the letter on September 20, 2000 pointed out that there is no evidence so far that cognitive overhead for KM has been eliminated; this means KM cannot be learned in 20 minutes.
However, it now appears that redundant links may make the work product of Knowledge Management valuable enough to tweak the wheels of progress for helping a broad spectrum of people advance from information to a culture of knowledge. Delivering benefits for a lot of people to improve the work is the secret of lifting civilization.


Rod Welch

Copy to:

  1. Doug Engelbart
  2. Morris Jones
  3. Bill DeHart
  4. Jack Park
  5. Stuart Harrow
  6. Jeff Conklin
  7. Eugene Kim
  8. Denis Henmi