The project will research innovations using Communication Metrics on the Internet to deliver intelligence. Prior National Science Foundation support for Steven Pinker's work at MIT (grants 82-09540, 85-18774 and 91-09766), led to his book How the Mind Works, published by W.W. Norton, Inc, in 1997. The prior research found that the human brain connects information into chains of cause and effect through a process called "intelligence." This new project proposes research on using technology that leverages innate intelligence by integrating time and information, which produces "knowledge," This adds value to human experience, leading to a powerful new form of "intellectual capital," that enables effective enterprise management, commonly called the paperless office and a virtual office. The nation will benefit from a direct, practical means to solve information overload, that otherwise overwhelms human span of attention, causing daily bumbling, mistakes, loss, crisis, conflict and disaster in public and commercial life, described by Henry Kissinger as an Alice in Wonderland environment. The explosion of communication in all forms adds urgency to this project.
Consistent with the objective of the project to enable automated management, this proposal can be viewed on the Internet at the following address...
Communication Metrics is a management science developed by the Principal Investigator for using a software program called the Schedule Diary System (SDS). SDS has a number of innovations to automate and integrate traditional time, information, contact and document management. However, the underlying concept is best understood as simply integrating time and information, based on an inherent management cycle of plan, perform, report, where "report" means writing a diary of daily experience, and linking it up to prior related events. This enables people to capture information chronologically, as a continuous knowledge stream, segmented into chunks that can be assembled across specified time spans to show cause and effect. Integrating this feature with a schedule, provides traceability to original sources, that emulates the human mental process of using experience to guide current and planned conduct. Advantages of the innovation were reviewed on April 13, 1999. The June 21, 1999 issue of Fortune magazine says CEOs need help capturing daily details, following up and getting feedback. These common intelligence tasks comprise Communication Metrics.
The alphabet is a technology for assembling information into a coherent story. Historians and experts use the alphabet to assemble different stories over time that point to rules about how the world works, commonly called "lessons learned," "case studies," "history," or simply "knowledge." SDS supports capturing experience quickly and accurately, along with controlling authority in law, regulation, industry standards, other publications and correspondence, using a consistent structure for identifying the location and linkages of related information. SDS provides a rich array of paths to information, including automated and custom links. The ability to create and access the sequence of events, and patterns of understandings, is a large part of intelligence, since the human mind largely reasons based on experience, rather than logic. Recent analysis on March 3, 1993 shows that work by Professor George Miller in 1954 layed the foundation in cognitive science for relating intelligence with experience.
Although it is not commonly considered in this light, "religion" has long applied the practice of linking stories to ensure alignment. Legal practice that uses citations to precedents is another form of linking stories across time. SDS offers a fundamental advance on these ancient methods by making it possible, practical and useful to link a much larger share of human experience into chains of cause and effect that can be used to guide daily conduct.
These innovations were presented in a paper on POIMS for the Project Management Institute, in 1994.
Intelligence for the purpose of this project is explained in the POIMS paper.
"Religion" as an intelligence system is developed in the paper: New World Order Needs Old Time Religion.
In 1997 tools were added to SDS for instantly converting information from any source into professionally formatted web pages, so that the Diary portion of SDS could be used for delivering "intelligence" on the Internet. Goals and planning for this effort demonstrate the utility of combining SDS content generation with Internet distribution capabilities.
Another major innovation in SDS are tools and procedures for organizing information according to an organic subject structure to facilitate retrieval and to prompt associations of meaning for alignment.
Information can, therefore, be quickly identified as it occurs, and then later assembled when needed in alternate ways to reflect the fact that meaning varies according to context. Assembling information according to context yields powerful insights based on pattern recognition, which is a major part of intelligence. The combination of meaning association through subject identification, with linking that builds chronologies, aids the human mind in maintaining alignment of new information with objectives, commitments, requirements, authorities and sources. This helps solve the problem of meaning drift which innately occurs in the mind, and causes continual mistakes in the modern environment of information overload. Since communication is a predicate to action, reducing meaning drift significantly improves performance.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reported on Oct 7, 1997 that subjects overlooked by managers due to limited span of attention cause rework that increase cost and delay, which is saved by Communication Metrics, using SDS organic subject structures.
Subject identification is hard work because the whole of a person's life experience is used by the mind at any given time to categorize the same information in different ways. Since everyone's experience is different in large and small ways, we think of different subjects for the same information. Additionally, each person thinks of the same information in different ways at different times.
These and other challenges of subject indexing are reviewed in the SDS record for Jan 16, 1997.
Limitations of conventional keyword retrieval that will be solved by this project, are reviewed on April 6, 1996.
SDS organic subject structures and tools have proven to be effective for 15 years in finding needed information within seconds. One way of applying this unique power is to use a dedicated resource like a librarian, or communication manager to build and maintain the index, like tending a garden of knowledge. Use on several assignments shows it is effective to build and maintain shared meaning over time, which is a key goal of Communication Metrics.
Generally, hiring a dedicated resource is perceived to be expensive, and exceeds budgets, within the near-term time frame that managers make decisions for applying this kind of support. The Corps of Engineers reported on Oct 7, 1997 that ROI for Communication Metrics supported by a dedicated Communication Manager was in the range of 10:1, and this was confirmed a year later on October 22, 1998. However, these savings are not visible to individual managers and budgets because savings accrue across the enterprise, across organizations and across time, so that for an individual manager the value at risk seems remote. The so called "felt need" that drives budget preparation falls outside span of attention.
Therefore, it is desirable to create a new innovation that enables people to build and apply their own subject indexes to identify information in the manner they need, when they need it, and to assemble the record with a new kind of search engine for the Internet.
SDS support to organize, align, analyze, summarize and retrieve relevant experience quickly, greatly expands the power of the alphabet to generate knowledge and ideas beyond what can be achieved through traditional printed documents, wordprocessing and email. The Internet now adds an additional advantage of uniform, timely delivery, world-wide. This emerging environment portends a new paradigm for technology to provide a useful operating system for people and organizations.
This capability is generic. It improves building a dam, writing a book, going to the moon, or to the grocery store, planting a garden, planning a merger, getting the car serviced, or going to the dentist. All human activity uses information of some kind. So, adding intelligence to information improves everything.
So far, no one else has produced anything close to a POIMS program, because the core idea of improving the alphabet by integrating time and information is counterintuitive. People have to think of it, or be told about it, and then overcome ignorance and strong disbelief that it is a powerful technique. Then they have to create a tool that adequately implements the concept, and then they must work with it for a fair amount of time so that the benefits of investing intellectual capital begin to role in. Then, like using the alphabet, a light goes off...
Oh, it really helps to write things down, and link them up.
Since POIMS is hard to explain and understand, Communication Metrics was put forward as an easier concept for managers to grasp. Managers are familiar with communication, and with business metrics. Unfortunately, despite years of TQM and an information highway, no one has a clue what Communication Metrics means.
For 15 years or so, only one person has plugged along advancing the technology, funded by occasional assignments and family resources, which are now running out. Evidence from use by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers shows Communication Metrics, using SDS according to its design, adds intelligence to management, and that this improves earnings markedly. People however do not want earnings improved, if it requires improving the core competency of civilization: reading and writing. Indeed, overcoming resistance by well-meaning managers and executives to improve earnings, is a miracle.
Reading and writing applied through Communication Metrics reveals a constant stream of errors, caused by limited span of attention in the face of an expanding flow of information, that people make every day, all day long. Since communication with others, and with oneself, is a predicate to all human action, introducing a metric that shows alignment with original sources, offers a huge opportunity to discover and adjust impending action that does not align with requirements and objectives, so that actual mistakes are greatly reduced. The corollary is that constant exposure to related subjects and history supports recognizing new implications that are commonly called insights, hunches, and ideas that are an attribute of human intelligence. Reducing mistakes and increasing ideas has a positive compounding affect on human productivity.
Confronting constant errors, however, is hard psychologically. People prefer to ignore small problems, and hope they do not grow into big crisis, the kind that take up most of the time expended by executives and managers. Second, people fear accountability that is commonly associated with writing things down, even if it improves earnings. More than they desire credit for success, they fear accountability for problems. These social dynamics prevent people from climbing the mountain of resistance to adding intelligence to management.
SDS, POIMS and Communication Metrics fit squarely in the category of a disruptive technology, given visibility by Clay Christensen in his book The Innovator's Dilemma, published a few years ago. Under Christensen's criteria, SDS is a powerful force for moving civilization forward, but is yet untapped. Because it is counterintuitive, government funding is an appropriate vehicle to help the private sector overcome ignorance, fear and denial that has, thus far, limited the opportunity to unleash the power of the microcosm into the mainstream of commercial enterprise.
The NSF proposal is to keep moving forward in the face of strong resistance.
NSF support is critical apart from funding, simply to gain access to the right people who can address these issues, i.e, to get people to return phone calls and engage the goals and ideas of Communication Metrics constructively. For many people the credibility of NSF participation is more important than moving forward on the work.
SDS will be used to capture the record, so an effective history of the work can be used by others.
Indeed, one could design a research program simply to demonstrate the value of reading and writing in an intelligent way. This is as an additional inducement to NSF for grant approval. Everything that is done with SDS inherently produces a well ordered chronological case study. An example is work preparing the grant proposal on April 27, 1999.
Other issues related to scaling SDS up for enterprise-wide support, will require study in the future, e.g., security, program loading characteristics, platform, data base administration, and so on, that traditionally arise for big scheme proposals on enterprise management. We propose taking it one step at a time. If we can solve these three (3) relatively narrow objectives of searching, rules for knowledge organization, and how to apply the light of intelligence on the Internet, it will be a huge step toward realizing the goals of the virtual office, and it will provide an immediate tool that can be widely used individually, and by at least a few people working closely together on a project, to share information.