[Humanist] 23.173 dull and sharp

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Sun Jul 19 08:31:36 CEST 2009

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 23, No. 173.
         Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Sat, 18 Jul 2009 15:11:31 +0200
        From: Paolo Rocchi <PAOLOROCCHI at it.ibm.com>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 23.165 dull and sharp
        In-Reply-To: <20090717050055.A68D31FF9D at woodward.joyent.us>

>> I find extraordinary Jim's remark:
>> "Some people are more interested in people,
>> Some people are more interested in things,
>> Some people are more interested in concepts."
>> My initial background stems from classical studies and I was convinced
>> that culture was the ultimate authority in society. Unfortunately fashions
>> changes and I find high-culture representatives more concerned on things
>> than on tenets and knowledge.
>Why do you find my remark extraordinary?  I find it obvious and simplistic.
>Yes, if you've studied the classics, you will be studying the works of
>those who believed culture is the ultimate authority in society.  But
>even then, that belief was probably not true of most people, just
>those educated enough to read and write.
>Jim R

Hi Jim

Recently Milan Zeleny (*) introduced a pretty scheme to illustrate the 
challenging pathway toward full scientific understanding. The scheme 
includes four steps: Data, Information, Knowledge and Wisdom (DIKW). 
Zeleny points out how *Data* is the set of measurements about an 
invention.  Initial elaboration of those data generates *Information* that 
adds context to the invention. Scientists are able to describe the 
earliest discovery after the first two stages and to answer a question 
like "'What'?. Researchers become more aware of a find through successive 
studies, namely they gain *Knowledge* that is composed of the insights, 
the values and the judgments which make individuals capable of replying a 
query about the origins of the novel phenomenon (= 'How?'). *Wisdom*, the 
ultimate comprehension of a matter that answer a question like 'Why?', and 
is reached as long as scientists obtain the solid conceptualization of the 
entire context which rings the initial discovery. 

Whereas researchers made efforts to cover the entire pathway in the past 
centuries, present day researchers take two steps with ardor in order to 
obtain immediate return of investments. The third step is rather tardy and 
the fourth step involves a very few people. I find your aphorism may be 
used to sum up the sociological experience of those (like me) who work 
around the principles of computer science:
- people more interested in people and in things, say over 99%,
- people more interested in concepts, say less 1%.

It is evident how the incomplete course DIKW - say the incomplete culture 
on computer systems - impairs the progress of technology and science as 
von Bertalanffy argued decades ago. And frequently we go around randomly.

(*) Zeleny M. - Management Support Systems: Towards Integrated Knowledge 
-Management, Human Systems Management, 7(1), (1987).


Paolo Rocchi

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