Klogging – Knowledge Web Logging

I’m a Klogger apparently. Link from Leon.
I’ve been running this KM-Blog for almost a year now, and now I find someone has just coined the phrase Knowledge Logging, keeping a “K-Log” of knowledge fragments. Link is to an article that exploits Microsoft Sharepoint to capture (say) employee blogs of knowledge with Sharepoint meta-data to capture structure in (say) a coporate knowledge base. Powerful idea, if the taxonomy of meta-tags can handle the true semantics. I’m already on this case. No time to lose.

There is a Kloggers forum too, run by John Robb of Radio Userland in the US
And there is KnowledgeBoard edited by Helen Baxter in the UK

Moby Dick – Fact From Fiction

Fact or Fiction ? www.melville.org
Well through Moby Dick now (96/136’ths) and still finding so much on so many levels. The blood-soaked anatomical detail and unctious stench and sensation in the butchery is numbing, and you can see how early reviews met with issues of poor taste ! As I mentioned earlier – one striking aspect is the balance between fact and fiction in the “documentary” account of the whaling industry, Melville’s own experiences and the (presumably) fictional narrative of Ahab, Moby Dick and The Pequod. Researching that aspect, I find, as expected, that there is no shortage of opinion on the matter. Hard to tell where romaticised telling of truth become actual fiction. Seems the apparent documentary aspects (eg in The Affidavit) are indeed essentially true.

OK, OK following a few more Google hits – so clearly this fact vs fiction aspect is a well trodden path (I did say I guesed it would be, didn’t I – see earlier). Seems to be a standard US exam question on US literature. End of that thread, except …. by the way did I forget to mention, I have a family connection with whaling going back three generations on my wife’s side of the family, so I have more than a passing interest. May get some relevant photographs and documents up on the personal pages for those interested, but I digress.

On the other hand, like why did I choose to read it as part of this information modelling research ? …

“Who would have looked for philosophy in whales, or for poetry in blubber. Yet few books which professedly deal in metaphysics, or claim the parentage of the muses, contain as much true philosophy and as much genuine poetry as the tale of the Pequod’s whaling expedition [….] and the graphic representations of human nature in the startling disguises under which it appears on the deck of the Pequod [….] all these things combine to raise The Whale far beyond the level of an ordinary work of fiction. It is not a mere tale of adventures, but a whole philosophy of life, that it unfolds.”

London John Bull, October 25 1851.

(I’d have to agree – and, by the way, it is more greatly absorbing than a “mere adventure” too. Very similar mix of qualities achieved by Pirsig. Ha – qualities ! Of course as i mentioned earlier, the reason I am reading Melville, is the “prodigious comparison” with Pirsig’s ZMM by reviewer George Steiner.)

Rationally Institutionalised Conspiracy Thinking

More Rationally Institutionalised Conspiratorial Motivation
Another link via Jorn from Common Dreams
Mr. Cheney also specialized in getting government contracts for the firm. During his five years as CEO, Halliburton got $2.3 billion in contracts, compared with $1.2 billion in the five years before he took over. Most of the work was done by Halliburton subsidiary Brown & Root, the construction firm, thus reinstating a fine old Texas tradition. Brown & Root was Lyndon Johnson’s major money source: It was to LBJ what Enron was to George W.
(Not news, in fact my thread is that there is nothing new under the sun in this line of apparent endemic conspiracy, but this particular example strikes a chord with me personally because of my longstanding relationship with one of B&R’s major competitors. I should explain – the “conspiratorial” references are not part of some conspiracy theory thesis against big business and the establishment – just part of a long series of threads of observation on relevant aspects of human nature – all will become clear.)

Reading Update

Speaking of my Reading List, as I was a little earlier.
Message to self – Also must restart the Nietzsche thread. Struggled with the biblical style of Zarathustra, but was taken with the contemporary notes by Ludovici, and need to follow-up via earlier Nietzsche works.
And speaking of literary style – I’m struggling with Melville again – the chapter (54) of “The Town-Ho’s Story” written as the narrative given verbally to “a lounging circle of Spanish friends” including Pedro and Sebastian – complete with asides, incidentals and interruptions in what is itself an aside from the main story – tough going to maintain the plot here. A 20 page chapter too, unlike the other 135 which are mostly between 3 or 6 pages each – roll on chapter 55.

Moby Dick & Francis Bacon

Reading list re-established !
Mentioned a month ago that I was reading Melville’s Moby Dick, and finding it enthralling so far. I got distracted however, and in the meantime read John Henry’s biography of Francis Bacon – Knowledge is Power, mentioned below and have since completed and enjoyed that (review to follow), together with dipping in and out of selected lectures from Poincare’s work, the selection edited by SJ Gould (much tougher going to find the relevance.) Poincare was a “geometer” – a perceiver of the big picture and claimant of sweeping generalisations – his arguments sound good on a rhetorical level, with exceptions ignored, but I’m not sure I can find much convincing rigour – I guess you have to be a mathematician. I think “maths-as-a-thing-of-beauty” is cool, I’ve certainly bought it for four decades, but it’s getting a bit overdone recently by the likes of Ian Stewart et al.

Struggled to get back into Melville, having put it to one side, but now back in full flow over one third through. I see now that my stumbling block was the series of chapters (scenes) on deck, written in the style of third person stage directions (unlike the rest in “I Ishmael” first person) which culminate in Ahab announcing in dramatic style his pursuit of Moby Dick to the assembled crew. One of the fascinating aspects for me is the degree to which the novel is a true story versus the fiction of Ahab and Moby Dick. For example, not only are Melville’s sea-faring credentials clear from the beginning, and the historical detail on the whaling industry, but in the sections explaining the credibility of Ahab’s attitude to Moby Dick, and that of the experienced crew, Melville cites in documentary fashion the cases of many “well-known individual whales” including names and ranks of the various ships and captains involved, with approximate dates. One of these chapters is entitled “Affidavit”, and Melville is clearly laying out supporting evidence – “Look, I’m not making this stuff up. Truth really is stranger than fiction.” If it’s just a literary ruse it’s very effective. I guess others must have researched all of this, (there is no end of books on Melville !) but I will just have to check-out this aspect – I’ve swallowed it hook, line and sinker.

Marvellous turns of phrase and humour throughout (too many subjects to mention here – race (colour), politics, communication, perception, motivation and madness to name a few.). Particularly enjoyed the passages describing the first lowering of the boats from the Pequod, and discovering the unexpected fourth boat (which I wont spoil by describing the circumstances), followed by the all action description of how Starbuck’s boat, with Ishmael, makes difficult and hazardous progress across the rising and falling waves, is upturned by the whale and ultimately smashed by being overrun by the mother ship in the grey squally conditions. You come out of it aching and sodden. By contrast their rescue and safe return to the Pequod is glossed over in a single, easily-overlooked statement. A little concentration pays off.

Some very interesting linguistic analysis too – not just the diverse historical and geographical sources of the words and styles, but artefacts like multiple threads of aliteration “crafted” in the one sentence and so on (don’t have the text to hand as I sit here, so I’ll dig out some quotes later – they’re worth it.)

Note the Hudson River analogy, when talking about [great] lakesmen – linked in Pirsig’s mind too ?

In view of some of my other threads majoring on “irrationality” and Catch-22 – the passages on Ahab’s “madness” when he returns from his original fateful encounter with Moby Dick, being “rationalised” by all who perceived it, drew lots of annotation for later use. As you can tell I’m getting a lot out of Moby Dick on many levels. (More than one drop of human blood per gallon of sperm oil at any rate.)