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Re: [ontolog-forum] What words mean -- What this thread means

To: "[ontolog-forum] " <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Christopher Spottiswoode" <cms@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Mon, 18 Feb 2008 08:56:59 +0200
Message-id: <03de01c871fb$9403b4e0$0100a8c0@Dev>
Many thanks to you too for the advice (once again, as you may remember from the SUO list in the year 2000).
Please see my reply a few minutes ago to Pat Hayes' comparable frankness.
As for the rest of this thread, at the point I joined it was on the fascinating subject of a good word with which to characterize the special nature of the web in its entirety.  I joined in by noting some aspects of another dimension to its complexity, namely when seen as a product of an elaborate social complex system.  I took the opportunity because I thought it useful to begin to set the scene for the "grasping the nettle of complexity" theme I sometimes use to help explain how it is that my full proposal (of which more to follow in later posts) will be successful.
So please do wait and see, though I agree this thread is not the place for my planned sequel.
For my part, I look forward to your showing me, in due course, how I might have been more succinct in introducing my very new and very big message.
Here are some further indications of how big the message is, and of how I have so far only started scratching the surface:
You have seen, for example, how I have already invoked "The Mainstream".  As you will see in my later posts, I am thereby beginning to draw attention to the continuity of my proposals with many constant and relevant features of human nature and human knowledge.  No radical proposal can succeed if it expects us to change our "basic" cognitive and behavioural patterns.  But we can discard the ways we have unnnecessarily complicated our lives with poor technologies.  So I shall be defining "The Mainstream", in a very selective way you might say, and building on it so that we might together better follow the slogan "Ride The Mainstream!"   The slogan is valid in many perhaps surprising ways, including epistemologically and, though with some critical adjustments, politically too.
I am even planning for the more permanent picture as we might together refine and elaborate it here to have its root on TheMainstream.info website.  Then one of its leaves will be on RideTheMainstream.net, which I am hoping will be where we will publish, and together refine and extend thereafter, the proposed ontology-based standards for interoperation.  That will include the Open Source of the basic platforms, for example, and be the root of services for the automatic verification of conformance of purportedly canonical messaging with the evolving standard.
All that is just a little intimation of some aspects of the big picture still to come.  Sorry if it merely seems to confuse and complicate at this stage!
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Monday, February 18, 2008 2:45 AM
Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] What words mean -- What this thread means


Pat Hayes said:

...,  I ... cannot help wondering: ...  did you actually intend to say something? If so, what?

The subject of this thread: "What words mean" suggested a thread of great interest to me. However, the meaning of "What words mean" must be quite different for some of you, than I -- for I have seen little of interest or value in this thread.

If this thread was successful at shedding light on something, what would that something be, and who would benefit and how?

Perhaps someone could summarize the main points [of value] so far to put this on track. If that summary has zero or fewer characters, perhaps the thread could stop and we could move on to things of value.


On Feb 17, 2008 2:16 PM, Pat Hayes <phayes@xxxxxxx> wrote:
At 7:44 PM +0200 2/17/08, Christopher Spottiswoode wrote:
Yes, you are 100% right:  I am courting trouble with many such choices of words.
Such is the cost of using existing words to communicate with.  But gradual shifts in the meanings of words, even "linguistical stereotypes" as you allude to, are the stuff of verbal and technical creativity and any resulting innovation.
So I have proceeded as if my proposed usages, in due course adjusted by people such as you on fora such as this, will eventually catch on.  I am expecting, for example (to speculate as to the kind of red-flag-words you might have had in mind), that the rest of the world will help the "Democratic Web" survive its partisan meanings in the USA, that the facilitated infrastructures foreseen will help all of us preclude any "tyranny of the majority" and will also thereby in due course render "The Mainstream" as co-opted in my story "as inclusive as the presently excluded may wish" (to quote myself from long ago).
Such confidence, more than somewhat apparently-premature though it may be, is based verifiably on the continuity of my software-architectural picture since I first published on it on the Web in 1996 (and since long before that, of course), and on the definite convergence with that picture by more recent architectural trends (okay, as I selectively focus on them...).  The end will justify the means, while even the provocation might possibly have more than countervailing benefits.
More crucially (if I may risk so loaded a word), there is nonetheless a more commonly-acceptable - or at least less widely-provocative - formulation of the greater social end, only it doesn't mean all that much to most people.  That single goal is "to help people simplify complexity together."  The rather inaccessible abstraction of that epistemological phraseology (Would you go along with that characterization?) helps explain why I am choosing to relaunch my story to an ontologist community.  You will see how the fictional "top-down construction" I present in the first post of my planned series explicitly posits that as its goal.  (The construction is fictional inasmuch as such representations are always ex post facto, as you know.)
You raise the matter of ethics.  A wider justification later of the epistemological goal will attempt to show how it is in fact "a single goal in broad and enriching support of every self-aware value-system" (as I put it elsewhere, in a piece which was well received by a significant readership I shalln't namedrop here).
And (to pop less far up the philosophical stack) if application interoperation and human collaboration - already explicitly the motivation of my own involvement with ontologies - are to become more universal, I believe addressing some such epistemological or ontological goal should help.
Certainly, however, I do believe most unwaveringly that wider philosophical perspectives, even where they cross the line into political matters, can help in usefully orienting and stabilizing our ontological endeavours.  You shall be the judge in my case.
So, many thanks, Paola, for the response!  It is efforts such as yours which explain why this planned launch is intended as interactive rather than one-way as on most web pages.
Meanwhile, I expect I would be able to give you an exhausting if not exhaustive justification as to why any one of your mooted 'politically incorrect statement parser and modifier' outputs would not be suitable here, all things taken into account.  So be warned against any such challenges too lightly laid!   :-)
If I may echo myself from my initial mooting of this series (now at http://ontolog.cim3.net/forum/ontolog-forum/2008-01/msg00453.html), "such discussion will profit enormously from, and should therefore await, the detail I am suggesting I follow up with."
Nonetheless, I do look forward genuinely to any correcting suggestions from anyone on an ontology mailinglist.  So please keep them coming.

I realize that the above was not addressed to me, but I nevertheless cannot help wondering: Christopher, did you actually intend to say something? If so, what?

Pat Hayes

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