The Hubon január 9th, 2011
What is the Future of the Internet going to be like?
At least two resources written by excellent authorities, namely Sir Timothy Berners-Lee The Future of the World Wide Web, and MIT Professor David Clark on The Future of the Internet are devoted to the subject. Both suggest that “the Web is by no means finished. The Web, and everything which happens on it, rest on two things: technological protocols, and social conventions. The technological protocols, like HTTP and HTML, determine how computers interact. Social conventions, such as the incentive to make links to valuable resources, or the rules of engagement in a social networking web site, are about how people like to, and are allowed to, interact.” (Sir Timothy Berners-Lee)
Professor David Clark also notes that the architecture of the Internet is based on a complex system of objective technology coupled with subjective knowledge (another complex system) in order to store and retrieve physical and non-physical objects. Internet has moved from a research curiosity to a recognized organic component of the mainstream societies to demonstrate again that in this world everything is related to everything else. This interrelation between objects originally not created by humans and those created by humans is the subject of human inquiry into reality, a process of recreating or reproducing both a physical world and a virtual world that now have a potential to follow a common, synchronised and co-ordinated course of development. This potential is seen as a common path as either as a process of “the tussle”, or by others the metaphorical road leading to the Age of Aquarius.
While we have a GPS system to identify the geographical positions of objects over the Earth’ surface we also have the Internet Protocol (IP) to identify both the “virtual and the real” locations of man made smart objects connected and sometimes integrated, yet scattered around over the same surface. Individuals moving about on the real surface of the Earth use a global navigation system for orientation, and those moving around in the real as well as virtual (computer hosted and created) space designed and implemented by man with the help of the Internet Protocol system orient themselves by using verbal communications.
Such verbal, natural and formal language communications reflect intelligence, the capability to try to flexibly adjust to the environment as well as a “how to type of knowledge” of doing that, or the capability (a know-how) to be smart. In this descriptive model of the human world it is not only the objects that are to be aware of their own self or ego and their choice of actions, but the human individuals as well in order to give the right response to the stimuli in the environment crying for help[i].
There is now an effort to establish the Internet Protocol as the network for the connection of Smart Objects by providing coordinated marketing efforts looking beyond the original local use of general purpose computers. Smart objects are described as a special case of an object in a virtual environment that can describe its own possible interactions with other objects. The additional information provided by this concept enables far more general interaction schemes, and can greatly simplify the planner of an artificial intelligence agent. But we still owe the design of a system made up from the obvious capabilities of the human minds that are widely untapped as we are not knowledgeable enough in understanding how human mind works as opposed to locating regions of the brains that show electrical activity associated with behaviour.
Looking at it that way smart objects[ii] resemble smart minds, they display intelligence that is seen to be a bottleneck with respect to utilisation, so it needs to be enhanced. But the purpose to amplify intelligence or to enhance learning is focused on the development of smart objects as opposed to developing smart people, or educated human resources. Why? Maybe, because smart objects are meant to entertain people, whereas the knowledge enabling us to design such artefacts is a serious matter, it is the domain of social control via business and principles.
The Internet is designed on the basis of a core set of design principles, or tenets, that identify points in the architecture where there must be common understanding and agreement. The tenets of the original Internet architecture arose as a response to the technical, governmental, and societal environment of internetworking’s earliest days, but have remained central to the Internet as it has evolved. In light of the increasing integration of the Internet into the social, economic, and political aspects of our lives, it is worth revisiting the underlying tenets of what is becoming a central element of the world’s infrastructure. There are three key tenets that some authors believe should guide the evolution of the Internet in its next generation and beyond. They are: design for change, controlled transparency, and the centrality of the tussle space.What is the Present of the Internet like?
The Internet today is a huge system of storage facilities and media of communication processes where a lot of communication is going on all the time without sufficient understanding. Understanding may be seen as the result of efficient search with the result of either a match or a hit. Both hits and matches are needed, because hits are the result of comparing forms of objects with the conclusion that they are the same, while matches are the result of looking for content of objects with the conclusion that the properties of such objects are identical.
They are the two sides of the same story. You either know the name of an object and you may not know its properties, or you may know some properties of an object but you do not know its name. At least in a natural language, or in the domain where your verbal knowledge is not complete. Reality created with the help of natural languages is not real in the sense as experience gained through your senses is, it needs to be vetted against evidence, facts and the findings of other people to establish the Ontological commitment of any verbal creation, the verbal version of a virtual reality. We simply cannot afford not to check the use of words, languages, etc. for reality, for existence. We need to know if we mean something real, existing, or we mean fiction, anything ungrounded in reality, a product of human creativity and fantasy, or a linguistic bravado, but nothing to build or plan/design the future of this world on. Just think of words that are acronyms, or metaphors, or just pure poetry, etc. all created in order to emphasize form and to aid memory as opposed to content, the subject of semantics and pragmatics, the real space for tussle in this century. And the first victim to fall in the battle seems to be Syntax and the integrity of verbal forms (i.e. unambiguous, unique words, etc.).Why drop syntax (analysis)?
Language learning starts without using any syntax but concatenation of words. Syntax is required to reduce the uncertainty about what separate words are next to follow any word uttered or written down. In other words it is a way of reducing the freedom or the number of possible actions to take with words. Therefore using statistics and calculating probabilities of what (word) comes next has been introduced in the relevant fields of applied linguistics.
But alas, natural language use is not just a list of meaningful words assigned to follow the rules of Syntax. Indeed, Syntax is used to reduce the number of possibilities of words to follow each other before you get a terminator symbol (full stop, question mark, etc.) But using a natural language is just one modality of communication, a wider process of performing mental operations on “whole ideas” chunked for processing them in larger units, such as sentences and propositions. And syntax analysis without reference to reality, i.e. without checking if a language is used for a serious purpose in communication does not really help us any more in understanding the internet. This is not the case with semantic analysis, though.
Semantic analysis is not dedicated to either of those forms, single words or sentences but to the discovery and the identification of content in the form of content words as we assume that thinking is more closely related to thinking in pictures of chunks of reality as related to content words, than in syntactical units.
Therefore there are two approaches to explore communication, just as the analysis of the result of the search operation, namely either analysing a form already produced, or assembling a form to be produced from the most simple elements of semantic content.
The first approach is semantic analysis, performed for instance for translation purposes, and the second is language generation, again for translation purposes. The constituents of this exercise should be the same – you cannot look for something that is not there, not existing. Therefore the idea is to start with the constituents that we use to make up a message, and if they are properly used, their analysis should take us back to discovering the non verbal antecedents of communication, the most simple elements of the semantic content. This is the same operation as with search where you can only find something that exists, that has been put somewhere for you to find. Thus for any search to be effective and efficient, you must design a physical storage system to match later search requirements. And the system describing such a physical system cannot be less real, “less existing” even though the descriptive system, the model is a product of mental operations.Selecting the objects of verbal creation[iii]
Selecting the objects of relation is also called selecting an application area of intent made explicit by communication. Selection means sorting and identifying a specific item from a multiplicity of generic items (e.g. an individual from a class) to suit a specific purpose (such as search). In this process we
Follow the inquiry/teaching algorithm, i.e.
- Start from known and simple
- Use examples. Examples: emails, blogs, web pages, websites, etc.
- Are you familiar with Emails? With web pages?
- What are their components? (How many?)
- What are their form and content?
- What are their constituent data fields? Sender (from), title (subject) date (received).
- Are they sorted on one or more keys?
- How is an email tagged/compressed? (Subject Lines)
- How is it extended? (Links)
- How is it structured inside? (sentences, passages, lists, Numbered Lists)
- How is it rated in terms of difficulty/performance?
- How do these compare to blogs or web pages? What functionalities are offered by a blog type of medium?
1. What is difficulty?
Difficulty is a measure of time it takes to understand something, or what somebody means for or wants from you. Understanding goes from known to unknown, from simple to complex/complicated. It is a also a measure of our capability to recall and mobilise our past experience and knowledge to understand anything new or not known yet. On this road we, or our knowledge may be rated as basic, intermediate, advanced, and expert (this is a case of measuring intangibles. See for example how language (oral communication) skills in the EU are assessed.)
2. What is understanding?
Understanding as documented in dictionaries has several senses (contexts) to be identified in a list. They include:
1. to know what someone or something means
What should be replaced by either an object or a subject.
2. to know what something spoken or written in a particular language means
Then you get content in a message or a heading form (NL) in one of two modalities
3. to know how or why something happens, or what effect or influence something has
That is further specified by identifying it as a message (with a verb) and giving details of how and why something is done or what it entails
4. to know how someone feels or why someone does something, as a result of experience or by imagining what it must be like to be them
That is further elaborated by recognising emotions or other motivation for acting in a specific manner, including empathy, or shifting the aspect of communication (person)
5. to believe that something is true because you have heard or read it somewhere
Besides giving the above description, it is also explained whether you accept such content and on what basis
6. to recognize that a word or phrase is missing in a sentence and that you have to imagine that it is there
And also explaining that any such communication may be incomplete and has to be completed for the communication to make sense on the basis of some assumptions, deemed to be reasonable and justified, and usually made rationally. Nevertheless we may have illusions as to be explained later below.
- Who should control “what”, and “how to” communicate?
Remember, that the burden of communication is on the communicator not the recipient[iv]. You as a communicator need to design the vehicle to use or the medium to deliver a message effectively. Apart from the technicalities and technologies you have mental operations on hand, and just as an example some more details of the process follow below.The mental operations involved:
- Selection – to select the length and structure of text to fit the frame, use reasonably short paragraphs. You may also call it formation based on sorting the available means to make them fit for the purpose (to match the intent).
- Specification – specifically in emails you must use:
- Subject Lines – all emails need a well articulated and relevant Subject Line. The issue is whether to change it as the subject is changed.
- Links – they are used to divert from the current word (line, page, etc.) to jump to something quoted, or to be quoted through pointers. The issue whether to use the website or a generic or a specific name (reference) to fork to. Forking to a link is certainly a change, not just in space, but in scale – you may choose to change your focus and bring another object in.
They (i.e. the links) are still just a part of giving details of the form to be used for communication.
“Ease of use changes behaviour”. Without links you will not be able to do reality checks, or see work that has been done. It is rare that any message or title is not possible to be linked to something else similarly important. Exceptions occur as this is a matter of decision, but they are still exceptions. Remember that everything is interconnected with everything else. Links (hypertext references) are tools to make such interconnections explicit and help you go on when you are stuck with your doubts.Organize the information (Do chunking, use Numbered Lists to enable referencing)
Simple lists represent a flow of thoughts that may or may not be logical or organised. Bulleted lists are a bit more informative or rational, but they do NOT convey priority by the sender other than the order of reading. The recipient invariably starts at the top assuming this is in fact the top priority. If you force yourself to use numbered lists, then you must organize your thoughts beforehand and thus you structure and prioritize your content accordingly.
We normally use Short Paragraphs with rare exceptions. Shorter paragraphs with strong subject sentences greatly increase reading comprehension as speed readers tend to read the first sentence of a paragraph and use that to make a decision if they should bother reading the rest. Shorter paragraphs means more of your message is consumed regardless of the topic you are addressing. Some people give new names all the time to the subject they cover, they create acronyms, they use abbreviation or even ellipsis. Some of them are called Nickel words[v]. They are especially annoying in mobile texting. To repeat the main message here:
“The burden of communication is on the communicator, not the recipient.”
While it is possible to write in tongues, for example by reducing verbal messages to a series of digits, the phenomenon of speaking in humanly unintelligible utterances of a machine language language is a level of simplification that needs to be avoided. This
approach to represent knowledge by the simplest components possible (0,1) needlessly reduces comprehension. We should not oversimplify our view of the world, instead we should present a model that is as simple as possible and no simpler. Just like in Physics, Genetics, etc.
If you must use an idiosyncratic word, or if you assume that your audience needs an explanation of “meaning”, be courteous and guide him or her to the next step (a link).The definition of the subject
snipName giving, title giving, tagging
snipTagging an area or space, or a class
snipProductive and additive relations
snipForming the message
snipStarting from experience, a case or a situation
Our sensory organs work within limits called the human dimension. This dimension we experience as reality and compare and share our individual experience in that human dimension. But not all our sensory organs are symmetric, we can receive visual input, but cannot produce visual output. Besides, the sensations or perceptions we use in communication may confuse us into perceiving things that don’t exist and not perceiving things that do exist.
Therefore we need to have a reality check, especially to vet verbal communication with non-verbal communication, or words against deeds, if you like.
Thus we have optical illusions where we cannot decide if A and B are the same colour, or are they different colours? So we know those visual communication limitations that make us see things that aren’t there or make us not see things that are there.
The explanation for such a discrepancy is in our mental state. For example narrowing focus or being under stress cause us to overlook things, or disclose them our sight.
Just like the optical illusion, in every mode of communication there is the opportunity for illusions of communication to occur which can often lead to miscommunication.
Such verbal, auditory illusions include a tendency of speakers to overestimate their effectiveness. We are confident that we are effective even if the information is ambiguous or unclear. Listeners are not always interested in checking everything heard for reality, they just skim the text for content (content words, or tags). But if they are, you have the choice between using a footnote or inserting a hypertext feature.
The conclusions are:
- Speakers are not understood as much as they think they are (less than ½ the time).
- Listeners are confident in understanding speakers
- Listeners do not understand as much as they think they do (less than ½ the time).
- Listeners are as confident when they are understanding correctly as when they misunderstand.
- Observers (not involved in the exchange) are more likely to identify potential misunderstandings.
Where emotion and volition interplay with reason the likelihood of misunderstanding is higher. Think of wishful thinking or the “closed ears” to the words of someone hated. Also, people that are anxious or depressed are more likely to incorrectly process ambiguous situations as threatening. And do not forget that children are credulous, because they have tremendous confidence in what you say, because they have no choice.
Written communication can be even more prone to illusions, hence miscommunication. Ambiguity in verbal communications is even more detrimental to miscommunication in written forms. Communication that takes place in written form is devoid of the context of interpersonal communication, hence the chances for asking questions or seeking explanation, original intent, body language and inflexion that come with communication in person. Furthermore, most written communication tends to be viewed as more formal, less redundant in other words.
We see things that aren’t there, we don’t see things that are. We think we hear things, clearly, but don’t. If we want communicate better, what can we do? Probably we should not treat our listeners as children. We should also be serious and not degrade communication to making surprises and entertainment through excitement. Next, we should audit our own communication related ideas including cognition, language and logic.
We may be good at communicating, but are still not immune from these illusions of communication. We would discuss a topic, come to a conclusion, reach an agreement, and then write it down. We found that only by using multiple avenues of communication (white boards, verbal, in-person meetings, and written summaries), did we actually agree on what we were trying to communicate.
The burden of communication falls on the communicator. Therefore some usual primary reactions in a dialogue may fail. Note that if you repeat something louder that may not help the listener, because his/her the problem may not be audibility, hence louder repetition is not a solution. But it is, when you try to imitate what you hear.
- Assume only ½ of what is communicated is understood. (Be realistic, this world is interested in excitement and entertainment)
- Repeat important communication points multiple times in different ways. (Be persistent)
- If something can be interpreted in multiple ways, clarify the original intent. (Be honest about your agenda)
- Don’t be ambiguous, be specific. (Be open and clear)
- Have the recipient repeat what is understood. (Check for delivery)
Have the recipient state assumptions that are made. (Check for willingness to listen on). Well, what do you think?
[i] Here the relevant issue is the time spent on inefficient search on computers and its consequence of wasting energy and spoiling the environment
[ii] Smart objects are the link between the virtual world and the real. A smart object “knows” about itself — where and how it was made, what it is for, who owns it and how they use it, what other objects in the world are like it — and about its environment. Smart objects can report on their exact location and current state (full or empty, new or depleted, recently used or not).
[iii] Verbal creation is rephrasing, paraphrasing or translating one expression into another one with the assumption that the new version would be more understandable. It is similar to providing synonyms which are words that can be used in lieau of another without violating the essence of the original meaning. But synonyms do modulate meaning, especially when they refer to a different chunk of reality, in which case they should not be used as synonyms. Neither is the term paraphrasing, rephrasing or translating applicable, because they have different referents or denotata. In this case you have the operation name-giving at work, creating a name for the first time for a chunk of reality. The difference is subtle but paramount.
[iv] The burden of communication is on the communicator is typically discssed in business communication, because time is money. Where everything works fine, there is no communication at all, where there is a chaos, communication is permanent. http://www.schipul.com/en/helpfiles/v/129 http://tim-stanley.com/post/Communication-Illusions.aspx
[v] Doug urged lawyers to use nickel words, one-syllable words that are simple and direct. Every word won’t be a nickel word but we should use them when we can. As they teach in journalism school, “never use a 10-cent word when a nickel word will do.”