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Re: [ontolog-forum] Is there something I missed?

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sat, 07 Feb 2009 11:51:11 -0500
Message-id: <498DBBFF.9060006@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Ron and Azamat,    (01)

It's important to have an appropriate balance between talk and action.    (02)

RW> It appears that there is very little enthusiasm for real work here.
 > Endless arguments around the edges of each topic seem to be the
 > flavour of the month. There is very little interest is highlighting
 > areas of agreement except to buttress some argument against someone
 > else's ideas.    (03)

I sympathize with that complaint.    (04)

AA> ... the Forum happened to collect most advanced minds in the
 > sphere of ontology and ontology engineering.  With high
 > organization, the Group can solve most challenging tasks,
 > delivering outstanding products.    (05)

I agree with the word 'can'.  The group has the *potential* to
do something important, but there are many email groups like this
one that have had good participants, but very little *observable*
results.  I emphasized the word 'observable', because many ideas
that people learn from a book, university, or discussion group
may eventually be transformed into action.    (06)

One thing that facilitates the transfer of ideas into action is
*money*.  An enlightened manager with sufficient funding can often
transform good ideas into outstanding products.  But misguided
managers can produce disasters.  And to protect the guilty, I
won't cite some cases where the same manager pushed a good idea
to a brilliant success, was promoted to a more powerful position,
and later pushed some bad ideas to disaster.    (07)

AA> In many Russian village, you may find places where few local
 > senior women, babushkas, sit all day talking about nothing.
 > The content and the purpose are of little importance. What is
 > important, the act of exchanging rumors, anecdotes, and gossips,
 > the process of conversation.  Usually, these closed country fora
 > led by gabbiest babushkas, full of trivial news.    (08)

I don't want to defend everything that the babushki discuss, but
there have been sociological studies that show the importance of
seemingly trivial gossip.  If you type "gossip sociology" to Google,
you'll get over a million hits.  Following is the first one:    (09)

    The real slant on gossip    (010)

Some excerpts below.    (011)

If you just read the published literature, you can gather a great
deal of important detail that has been well reviewed and edited.
But you also get a lot of mediocre writing that was reviewed,
considered moderately acceptable, and never proved to be useful.    (012)

But there are several important things you don't get:    (013)

  1. Detailed debate that evaluates the ideas and provides personal
     experience about how those ideas worked out in practice.    (014)

  2. Disasters, which the people involved almost never want to
     publish and the people who were not involved seldom have
     enough information to analyze and explain.    (015)

  3. Guidelines about how to act in similar situations and which
     people to trust, collaborate with, or avoid.    (016)

The babushki are ruthless in stating their opinions about all
such issues that affect their daily lives.  Many of those issues
may be trivial on a grand scale, but they can be critical for
their village or neighborhood.    (017)

We have had a lot of useful "gossip" and information on this list,
but I agree with Ron that we need to develop a more effective
way to transfer the good ideas into action.    (018)

___________________________________________________________________    (019)

Focuses on the benefits from gossiping. Gossip in newspaper columns;
Primary function of gossip; Gossip among preteens. INSET: The high-
tech grapevine....    (020)

"For a real understanding of our social environment, gossip is
essential," agrees Jack Levin, Ph.D., professor of sociology and
criminology at Boston's Northeastern University and coauthor of
_Gossip: The Inside Scoop_.  "Its primary function is to help us
make social comparisons...."    (021)

In the more than two dozen on-line rumors Bordia looked at for study of 
how rumors are transmitted via computer, he found that "conversations" 
have a typical pattern: First, they're tentatively introduced, 
generating, a flurry of requests for information. Next, facts and 
personal experiences get shared and the group tries to verify the 
rumor's veracity. Finally, the group breaks up or moves on to another topic.    (022)

C. Lee Harrington, a professor of sociology at Miami University in
Ohio, who's conducted her own cybergossip survey, concurs. She says chat 
room enthusiasts, like ordinary gossipers, "attempt to establish the 
veracity of the information they're sharing through references to 
outside sources. They rely on secondary sources, refer to personal 
knowledge and relationships, or, as is the case with entertainment 
gossip, claim to have direct connections to it, accounting for their 
'inside information.'"    (023)

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