[iDC] how long is a piece of string?

Paul Prueitt psp at ontologystream.com
Wed Nov 7 14:05:43 UTC 2007

On Nov 7, 2007, at 6:00 AM, idc-request at mailman.thing.net (Karen) wrote:

> So perhaps we should not design applications that create
> in-between-ness directly, instead maybe we might construct  
> frameworks in which
> in-between-ness can emerge depending on people's actions?

I complement the participants on the quality of the discussion.

I recommend this discussion be reviewed by those soa-forum  
participatants who are interested in the original Clinton  
Administration focus of "e_governance" as a human centric interface  
between government and individual people.

I would like to summarize the forum discussion from a viewpoint which  
I call "second school", and in this way delineate the differences  
between a first and second school. ( www.secondschool.net )

Up to now, information technology is characterized as constructed  
software interfaces that serve some utility while also serving as  
returns on investment within a specific philosophical school  
regarding capital formation.  Shannon information theory is only part  
of the philosophical positions that are elevated by the "first  
school".  Due to subtle scientific and philosophical issues, hard to  
capture in the first school mindset, the alternatives to the first  
school are not developed except in scholars language such as what  
enfolds in the idc e-forum, and a few other places.

A second school about information recognizes more fully the situated- 
ness  of individual human experience and seeks to define computer  
human interfaces that capitalize the in-between nature of the  
experience of location within various worlds, social, personal,  

Maturana and Varela's work on autopoiesis certainly gives us one  
approach to understanding the in-between-ness of situated awareness.   
The idc forum often mentions both social biologists' foundation  
works.   I would include in foundational work the work on action- 
perception cycles developed by J. J. Gibson

 From wiki on Gibson:

James Jerome Gibson (January 27, 1904–December 11, 1979), was an  
American psychologist, considered one of the most important 20th  
century psychologists in the field of visual perception. In his  
classic work The Perception of the Visual World (1950) he rejected  
the fashionable behaviorism for a view based on his own experimental  
work, which pioneered the idea that animals 'sampled' information  
from the 'ambient' outside world. He also coined the term  
'affordance', meaning the interactive possibilities of a particular  
object or environment. This concept has been extremely influential in  
the field of design and ergonomics: see for example the work of  
Donald Norman who worked with Gibson, and has adapted many of his  
ideas for his own theories.

In his later work (such as, for example, The Ecological Approach to  
Visual Perception (1979)), Gibson became more philosophical and  
criticised cognitivism in the same way he had attacked behaviorism  
before. Gibson argued strongly in favour of 'direct perception', or  
'direct realism' (as pioneered by the Scottish philosopher Thomas  
Reid), as opposed to cognitivist 'indirect realism'. He termed his  
new approach ecological psychology. He also rejected the information  
processing view of cognition. Gibson is increasingly influential on  
many contemporary movements in psychology, particularly those  
considered to be post-cognitivist.

I suggest that the Gibsonian concept of affordance is of particular  
interest "if" computer interfaces are to evolve under some type of  
measure derived from the action to be taken.  Gibson and Karl Pribram  
had many discussions about the nature of affordance; and there are  
many nuances captured by the group at Univ of Conn, school of  
Ecological Psychology (Shaw and Turvey).  We enter the field of  
"complex natural systems" and the need for Robert Rosen's definition  
of complexity.  Rosen's definition is essentially that all natural  
systems other than formal systems are complex, and all formal system  
are simple (non-complex).  Cognitive maps like Topic Maps can be  
complex when experienced by a human interpretant (CS Peirce).   
Mathematics and RDF-OWL ontology is simple (non-complex) but  
complicated when used as fixed truth.  * These statements are "second  
school" in nature.

The question of how the affordances possible in a situation are to be  
modeled has been a key element of work done with web ontology  
languages, particularly in the context of defining service  
architectures.   These service architectures are full "anticipatory"  
if and only if the action consequences can be modeled within the  
context of being situated prior to those consequences. (footnote to a  
longer paper on anticipatory design)

The schools here are using W3C standards based on what is called RDF  
and OWL - with primary application in business, government and  
military.  The application is clearly "first school" however - and  
perhaps luckily.

Topic maps are used by some who are at least intuitively aware of the  
issue of in-between-ness as situated.

There are specific issues that have to be resolved in order that the  
correct formal tool, ie. Topic Maps, be applied in a second school  
fashion, so that "the shape of a string" is addressed in the fashion  
suggested by Wittgenstein in his "Blue and Brown Books".

Thank you all again of the thoughtful dialog, and please excuse any  
error I may have made in my presentation.


footnote on anticipatory design:

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: http://mailman.thing.net/pipermail/idc/attachments/20071107/f06bcfef/attachment-0001.htm 

More information about the iDC mailing list