Friday, August 9, 2013


Yeah, that title was a pretty blatant ripoff. But it is a book on my reading list, and I felt it was more important to get going with the mechanics of the research than get stumped by a clever title.

As I embark on my dissertation project once more, I am struck by the need of organizing and properly planning the individual parts and activities. Even when summarizing my thoughts for a good friend of just a recently completed small amount of time of reading and musing, it becomes immediately obvious that walking past the valleys and leaving the vistas aside is where the success or the failure come from.

The plurality of tools available is part of what is staggering to the embarking researcher. None of them are sufficiently integrated with each other (though some of that may be conceptual), and there are advantages to Google docs over Google Blogger over free Wikis over source forge projects. Indeed, whatever happened to LiveJournal? Surely the mere fact that the majority of my friends have migrated elsewhere cannot explain the lack of appeal it has for finding my stuff again? Is search so all-important, the fear of loss so dominant, than anything not powered by PageRank wont do?

Research is journaling, this much seems inescapable. Thus some journal is needed. A journal that would allow any and all things to be reported and recorded, some of them live, some of the fixed snapshots in time (thank you, Internet archive). In the spirit of writing as rewriting, where progress is made as the continuous development of new conceptualizations in terms of the refinement of existing knowledge structures.

That architecture still needs creating, and is dependent on semantic technologies still incompletely implemented and conceptualizations still incompletely understood. Maybe every generation of scientists embarks on trying to find the perfect tool for their question and only ends up generating the preconditions and proto-foundations for their followers. Instead of using what I want to use, maybe I can contribute to the construction of the tools that would have helped me.

The translational effort at the system boundaries occupies the most significant part of the time; maybe the fragmented nature of our own existence, coupled with the heterogeneities in our own understanding, ensures that the unifying tool remains elusive.

Still, the situation could bear improving.

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