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All posts for the month April, 2002

Wow, is it really two weeks since I last posted.
Actually I’ve been ill with a heavy cold, and have done very little apart from read.
Finished Heisenberg, Physics and Philosphy – good read
Started Poincare Writings, ed SJ Gould – not so promising
Started Melville, Moby Dick – excellent read so far.

Spotted this interesting BMJ link from Jorn
About drug companies talking up “illness” to boost drug demand.
From my perspective this is “spinning” information.

Reading Physics and Philosophy by Werner Heisenberg (c1958/p1962)
Having previously read the Physical Principles of Quantum Theory, to get a first hand account of the Uncertainty Principle, found this much more readable volume of his. Pretty comprehensive summary of Philosophical views of the “reality of matter and atoms” from the Greeks to Hume and Russell. Illustration of uncertainty principle effects at each step seems to be leading to many worlds (no buts so far as I can tell). Says the quantum / uncertainty view of the world is a “paradigm shift” in the way the reality of the world is viewed. Makes allusions to human scale manifestations, without really illustrating with examples (yet), so far all his examples are at the quantum / measuring device level – still, only 1/3 of the way through. Some excellent fit with Pirsig static (matter) / dynamic (energy) perspectives, and problems with One/Duality/Binary vs Plural views of possible states. Expect the latter to lead into where quantum computing gets its alternative view of “information” – will develop further when completed.

Also suggests a new thread – distinctions between Metaphor, Analogy and Model. Let’s be honest, when we say this is a Metaphor or an Analogy to help understanding of the principles and effects of something, are we also saying it is a Model of what actually exists ? Is this distinction meaningful or not ? Either way, every time I see “many worlds and multiverses” I get this dilemma in my head. I can see why Stephen Hawking screams whenever he hears of Erwin Schroedinger’s overcooked Cat – just like Chares Handy’s overcooked Frog !

Also obtained Melville‘s Moby Dick, and Poincare Writings edited by SJ Gould.
The most cited sources in so many others.

Pirsig’s Lila - finished at last, after many interruptions.
Will add a review, but may need to re-read final few chapters to absorb.
Thoughts for now.

The lunatics take over the asylum again. Should I be worried ? – in ZMM I identified with Phaedrus, in this, I am Lila ! The “game” of Catch22 and the “character” of Cuckoo’s Nest feature very strongly, but only implicitly, in passages about “insanity”. (The reference to an imposter in an asylum, spotted by the inmates, but not the staff – is surely a reference to Cuckoo’s nest, or shares a common source. Similarly the strategies inmates play to convince staff of “sanity” are full of Catch22 allusions – no references made to Heller or Kesey anyway.)

Levels of intellectual / social / biological cultures very reminiscent of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (not mentioned by Pirsig), as used to describe motivation of individuals and groups within organisations / cultures. A culture having ascended to a higher level (or dynamically within a higher level), those levels below become static “hygiene” to be challenged / controlled from the higher culture, but not undermined, without replacement foundations. Equally, static cultures must not be allowed to control / restrict higher dynamic cultures – necessary controls to avoide degeneracy must come from within or from higher levels. This is the main framework of Pirsig’s commentary on “morals”, and the concepts of absolute goodness and badness, and or course, his “Metaphysics of Quality”. (Consequently – lots of good stuff on the bounds of scientific argument vs value judgements.)

Main thread revolves around “anthropology” and its history as a “science” (or not). Encouraging to my main thread – pointing to ethnography / behavioural / process model for “information” (Interesting description of Philosophology as distinct from Philosophy.)

Lots of new references (philosophical and philosophological) and lots of namedropping arising from his post ZMM celebrity. The general line is a clear development of his thoughts in ZMM, but somehow as a novel, it is less gripping than the original, possibly due to the constant references to the previous book. The underlying narrative, Hudson river boat trip / New York locations (and WTC / Manhattan skyline references too) has some good emotional twists though, so definitely recommended reading (after ZMM – no point reading out of sequence.) Post Moby-Dick note – Did Pirsig have Melville in mind when he chose the Hudson ?

[Post Note – since reading ZMM and Lila, Pirsig has become a project in his own right – see side bar links.]

Binary or Tertiary views ? – Let’s do the Hokey-Cokey.
How many things do you divide something else into. Are you a
2×2 Person – BCG Grids, Yes&No, Black&White, we need a decision, binary chopper.
3×3 Person – three layer architectures, with three layers in each layer, onion-skins ad-infinitum.
Is there such a thing as an NxM Person ?

If you have a “bag” of say 20-ish issues, which are to some extent different or independant, but somehow inter-related, how many boxes do you draw before you allocate pigeon-holes ? This is more to do with pragmatic span of managability, and immediately perceived purpose, than anything fundamental about the classification of the issues themselves. (see TQM / brainstorming / facilitation techniques and bases of various approaches.)

Also a matter of geometric perspective / topology, a 2×2 grid is typically a tertiary decision tool. 2 different no-brainers, bottom-left and top-right, plus a set of problems top-left and bottom-right. In, Out and Shake-it-all-about.

Is there something better than “binary” classification. Is quantum computing part of the answer ?

I’m listed on the Internet Research Register

Trending propensity - assumption at current subjective scale that observable variations or changes reflect underlying trends or simple patterns. Compare chaotic fractal complexity, scalability, and “catastrophic” local instabilities and also anthropocentric views of genetic success in Steven Jay Gould – Life’s Grandeur. A rationalisation of the observable on the current level ? Cf Post-modernism and Lila – many independant levels on orthogonal axes – hold that thought.

Bayesian Methods – International Society for Bayesian Analysis.
After the Rev. Thomas Bayes.

Jules Henri Poincare – everybody’s hero (as I said earlier) in fundamental thinking behind complex behaviours. (Google#Poincare gets 1000’s of hits.)

William James Sidis – new thread prompted by Pirsig / Lila
Sidis – the original April Fool ?
William James Sidis could speak five languages and read Plato in original Greek by the age of five [ps perhaps he was Greek – more western/US/English-speaking arrogance – aside]. At eight he passed the entrance for Harvard but had to wait three years to be admitted. Even so he became Harvard?s youngest scholar and graduate in 1914 at the age of sixteen. Frequently featured in ?Ripley?s Believe it or Not?, Sidis made the front page of ?The New York Times? nineteen times. The story defies all conventional norms and may even sound like a joke if you found out that Sidis was born on April 1, 1898.

Quantonics – Sidis web resource.
The W J Sidis Archives
Huge resource – many links and archives including Dan Mahoney, Cathie Slater-Spence, Buckie-Fuller as well as Lila extracts / reviews.

Main interest apart from Sidis own contribution to Anthropology / Enthnography, is the attitude of the world to Sidis. April Fool / Burnt-out Genius or Boy Wonder ?

[Post Note : See also Sidis and Buckie-Fuller links in the Pirsig Pages – via side bar.]

Synchronicity, Jung and I Ching – start a new thread.
I Ching Edition & translation by Hellmut Wilhelm & Carey Baynes.
On-line copy of the Foreword to I Ching by Carl Gustav Jung.
Synchronicity – the principle of Meaningful Coincidences. This is a somewhat mystic / psychobabble source, but a readable summary of Jung and Synchronicity, and relationship to “new physics” of the early 20th century.
Chris Lofting’s web-site on Meaning from a Semiotic Perspective also includes Jungian Typology and the I Ching as applied to psychometric profiling (a la Myers-Briggs) etc.

Meanwhile picked-up the Synergetics thread, prompted by Brian Josephson
Hermann Haken at Stuttgart Uni
Bob Ulanowicz at Chesapeake Bio Lab

Spooky synchronicity developing between non-locality, paranormal, quantum computing & information. Stapp and Josephson would clearly appear to be onto something.

Catch 22 or The Ultimate Cop-Out ?
I am clearly proceeding in an unashamedly unscientific way.
Effectively, I already know I am right and am seeking not so much supporting evidence, as meaningful, useful, implementable ways of expressing what is needed. I’d like to think I’d notice if I came across significant counter evidence. What was that about western arrogance ? I have to say, however, that every experience (new or existing) re-inforces the central hypothesis, neatly summarised in the Nonaka / Chun Wei Choo quotation below. Interestingly, even staunch defenders of the scientific method, and the preservation of doubt (such as Feynman), leave us the escape route that such method is not necessarily applicable to human / social sciences (sic). Knowledge Modelling appears to be one such subjective subject. Ethnographic / behavioural studies are much closer to the truth. (Walsham / Myers et al.)

Another Knowledge Management and Organisational Learning Link
Clive Holtham’s KM links page. Also Clive’s home page at CUBS.
Broad and varied range of links included – though no links to original material. Interesting Creativity stuff in addition to usual KM. Can find no reference to his earlier Warp & Weft concepts of Data / Info / Knowledge / Wisdom.
Interesting link to Intelligent Learning Organisation by Chun Wei Choo. The link from Holtham is an old one – to a draft of what is now a book in its third edition. Worth following-up Negative Entropy = Information also Information Processes / Organisational Behaviour / Organisational Learning / Decision Making and the Meaning of Life ! I think this guy has got it. All the right ingredients and a sense of humour – unbeatable. Quote from Nonaka, quoted by Chun Wei Choo in his Digital Libraries Singapore Conference paper based on Chapter 8 of his Intelligent Learning Organisation book.

Quote
The centerpiece …. is the recognition that creating new knowledge is not simply a matter of “processing” objective information. Rather, it depends on tapping the tacit and often highly subjective insights, intuitions, and hunches of individual employees and making those insights available for testing and use by the company as a whole. The key to this process is personal commitment, the employees’ sense of identity with the enterprise and its mission. Mobilizing that commitment and embodying tacit knowledge in actual technologies and products require ….. A company is not a machine but a living organism. Much like an individual, it can have a collective sense of identity and fundamental purpose. This is the organizational equivalent of self-knowledge – a shared understanding of what the company stands for, where it is going, what kind of world it wants to live in, and, most important, how to make that world a reality. … In the knowledge-creating [learning organisation] company, inventing new knowledge is not a specialized activity – the province of the R&D department or marketing or strategic planning. It is a way of behaving, indeed a way of being, in which everyone is a knowledge worker …..
(Nonaka) UnQuote [my bold emphasis]

In other words it reinforces the fact that Enterprise Information Models need a subjective / non-classical basis if they are to be any use.

[Historical Note – Spotted and introduced myself to Clive Holtham at a “PRIMA” conference in London 5 or 6 years ago, where the import of his “soft” paper appeared to go unrecognised in an alien “hard” engineering field in the Process Industries. Looks like he’s moved on to bigger and better things.]

Early AI History according to RobotWisdom
These are Jorn’s memoirs from the Institute of Learning Sciences at Northwestern University, from which he was fired in 1992. For “AI” in RobotWisdom read Knowledge Modelling, with a human / behavioural slant. Reminded to re-read by the Arthur Andersen / Roger Schank Virtual Learning reference in the New York Metro on the Andersen / Enron fallout. (The story, by JJCramer of TheStreet.com, also for the Auditor / Consultant scam content.)

Interesting too, ironic actually, given my empathy for Jorn’s line of thinking, and his falling-out with Schank / ILS, that Schank’s company should be called “Socratic Arts“. It’s yet another classical vs non-classical reasoning battle. No problem with Schank’s Virtual Learning approach – Heuristic, with low-risk “space to fail” simulator environment – basic common sense as used for decades in high-health-and-safety-risk industries. His success stories in selling simulator packages is like any application software success – Provided the application domain is reasonably clearly defined, a classical-rational information model will suffice. This appears to be more a matter of (engagingly / efficiently / effectively) “teaching” something that is already known, rather than learning new knowledge. Excellent training strategy, but pretty limited for “learning organisation” aspirations. (Interesting independant summary / commentary on Virtual Learing from JJJKasvi, Helsinki University of Technology – interesting source of other KM material.)

Same issue with Chris Gray’s stuff (JIMS Cambridge) on organisational learning ?
Same confusion between “education” and “knowledge” ?