Re: anonymous collaborative filtering

From: Cliff Stabbert (
Date: Tue Sep 24 2002 - 12:31:08 MDT

TG> The original WikiWiki seems to think it's a collective
TG> intelligence of some form:
TG> See also:
TG> Is this similar to what you're after?

Some of that is very close, certainly, in goals. (I had thought
briefly of mentioning Wiki Wiki but my understanding of it was terribly
outdated and/or based on the wrong sites.)

I haven't read all the articles and the ones they link to in depth but
Wiki Wiki definitely has the right approach in some instances, IMO.
Where I would differ is in a) wanting to increase the speed of
conversation b) integrate more collaborative filtering and c)
preserving anonymity in threaded "discussions". I do like a lot of
things about the approach, so thanks very much for pointing it out.

Simon McClenahan:
SM> Your wording doesn't make sense to me. A collaborative technique
SM> or action has the end result of a single train of thought. And if
SM> it human collaboration that is employing the technique, the only
SM> benefit from using a particular technology is simply as a tool for
SM> the individual humans to enter and filter/reorder/reformulate the
SM> stored information.

The words "only" and "simply" in that sentence bother me...In my
experience, two people bouncing ideas off each other can come up with
new ideas neither would have developed on their own. IMO, this
can work with up to, perhaps, five people; more, and it starts to
deteriorate. One of the system goals is to enable such productivity
on larger scales, with more participants.

SM> If the collaboration is performed by an AI, then the discussion
SM> board technology simply becomes an issue of human user interface
SM> design on how to enter and render information.

I haven't considered AI as a component of This Damned Thing yet, but I
object to "simply" here as well: interface design can have a huge
impact; and depending on how AI was employed it might be able to
present "new" (subjectively, to the participants) information, as it
were datamined from the contributions and their cross-references (see
Mitch's point, below).

SM> This [ego] is a social problem. You need to figure out the idea
SM> parsing first. Personally, I prefer people to be identifiable and
SM> accountable for what they say, egotistically or not.

In the usual forum structures, I agree. The goal of The Damned Thing
I'm after, however, is precisely to transcend individuals in an
attempt at something similar to human clustering.

SM> The trademarked Mind Maps were developed by Tony Buzan, and is
SM> designed very specifically for humans to work and think in a more
SM> visual mode.

re: Mind Maps -- I haven't been able to hunt down the software that
I was thinking of originally. Somewhat similar to Mind Maps, but
network- rather than hierarchy-oriented, it also would recenter on
whatever node you clicked on.

Some further googling reveals Axon's "Concept Mapping" to possbily
more akin to what I mean; see "Concept mapping
software" might be the more appropriate google phrase.

SM> Creating a discussion board that uses graphical artifacts will be
SM> difficult to sell to people because they are still used to
SM> thinking linearly, in a "train of thought" as you put it.

As far as it being visually oriented, I see this (and the glass bead
game) as one (possible) aspect of the software I envision -- allowing
an overview of the connections (and properties of individual
connections, e.g. cause, prerequisite, concomitant, precedent) within
a network of concepts or thoughts. E.g. perhaps one would
double-click on a node to see its full text.

Mitch Howe:
MH> I thought this was a pretty interesting idea, and I wound up
MH> losing a bit of sleep thinking about how something like this might
MH> be made to work.

Whoops ;)

MH> One of the specific things that came to mind was the online forums
MH> of public discourse that figure prominently in the novel *Ender's
MH> Game* by Orson Scott Card. These were very popular and had
MH> enormous sway over public opinion -- so much so, that two gifted
MH> children were able to wield a surprising deal of influence...

This book just got moved up a number of spots in my queue.

MH> But one has to wonder how such forums could ever arise without
MH> collapsing under the weight of petty human squabbles and inept,
MH> unintelligent posts. Anonymity, I think, is just part of the
MH> answer. Here are my ideas for such a system, which I envision as
MH> a modified bulletin board:
MH> Rules (for enforcement, see below):

<snip> I agree, these are useful rules.

MH> For statistical purposes, each unique user that views a post adds
MH> to a *read* total on the post.
MH> Immediately I can envision a number of interesting lists arranged
MH> not just by post value, but by controversialness (total number of
MH> points on the *post* and on the rebuttals -- providing post value
MH> is not too low), impact (number of points on posts/rebuttals vs.
MH> number of reads) activity (number of reads, posts, and points
MH> added over a given time frame), and size (total number of
MH> rebuttals and counter rebuttals).

That's an excellent idea, and if some AI/datamining technology were to
be used as a component of the system, such statistics would make a
good starting point.

[snipping the rest, re: rankings and abusing them; I may comment on
this after some further thought]

Thanks all for the feedback and input...I definitely have a more
clearly defined concept of what I'm after now, as well as plenty of
usable ideas from the various tools and some intuitions about how to
integrate them.


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