March 1972 | Draft
Relationship Between Elements of Knowledge
Use of computer systems to facilitate construction, comprehension and comparison
of the concept thesauri of different schools of thought
-- / --
Originally distributed as Working Paper 3 of the Committee on Conceptual and Terminological Analysis
of the International Political Science Association based on an earlier version (Design of an information system to facilitate the production of concept thesauri by different schools of thought, 1971). The original document is available in a single searchable PDF version (8mb).
That PDF contains the sections below, but also includes the Appendices (also accessible as separate PDFs).
See also abridged version: Toward
a Concept Inventory: suggestions for a computerized procedure (1973)
The proposal outlined was the basis for development of the computer facility for the Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential
Quotes indicative of strategic relevance
Stafford Beer: Managing modern complexity. In: The
Management of Information and Knowledge: a compilation
of papers prepared for the 11th. Meeting of the Panel on
Science and Technology of the Committee on Science
and Astronautics (US House of Representatives, 1970):
Handling complexity seems to be the major problem of the age 1
in the way that handling material substance offered challenge
to our forefathers. Computers are the t.ools we have to use,
and their effective use must be directed by a science competent to handle the organization of large, complex probabilistic
Georges Mounin: Discours inaugural du Colloque sur le mot
structure sous las auspices de l 'UNESCO (In: Roger Bastide
(Ed.). Sens et usages du terme structure dans les sciences humaines et sociales,
1962, 165 p.) .
Des mots aussi courants que "groups", "classe"; "pouvoir:"
ou "structure ... comptent actuellement non pas deux, ou
trois, ou quatre significations fondamentales -- ce qui
est normal -- mais autant d'acceptions que d'auteurs,
acceptions parfaitement irreducibles a un commun denominateur, et meme totalement autonomiques.
John M. Ziman: Information, communication and knowledge (Nature, 224,. 25 October 1969, p. 323):
I cannot emphasize too strongly the importance of this activity of intellectual synthesis. Any notion that we may have about
the nature of science includes the belief that something like
an overall pattern is to yet discovered and described.. What we need is scientific knowledge -- not more and more miscellaneous and unrelated information.
René Maheu: Allocution du Directeur General de l'UNESCO
au Colloque international de l'UNESCO sur le theme
''Science et Synthese", 1967):
Face a la spécialisation croissante de la pensée et de
l'action par la diversification de la recherche et la division
du travail (UNESCO) se doit de favoriser les recherches
et les confrontations interdisciplinaires, d'encouragor les
réflexions de 1'ensemble, bref de souligner l'importance vitale de l'esprit de synthèse pour l'équilibre de notre civilisation.
Je dis bien vitale, car l'homme -- j'entends l'essentiel, a savoir son jugement, sa liberté -- peut aussi bien etre asphyxié par son savoir que paralysé par son ignorance, et il
pout tout autant se perdre dans la complexité du comportement social dévorant que s'attrophier dans la simplicité élémentaire d'une condition dite de sous-développement.
René Maheu: Director General of UNESCO (Main Trends of Research in the Social and Human Sciences, UNESCO, 1970, p. xiv-xv):
The practical manifestation of this interdependence...
( the social sciences and the human sciences) is
interdisciplinary co-operation, which culminates in multidisciplinary research and is embodied in teamwork: an
indispensable basis for the knowledge of man, but at the
same time an idea which, in general, abstract terms, has a dangerous fascination, and which might remain no more
than an empty and unproductive slogan if its foundations
and mechanisms were not clearly identified by contact with
specific problems propounded to research, and with due
regard to the various institutional, financial, technical. and human factors on which its development, fruitfulness
and capacity for renewal and creation in fact depend.
Peter Drucker: The Age of' Discontinuity: guidelines to our changing society (1969):
The most probable assumption is that every single one of the
old demarcations; disciplines, and faculties is going to
become obsolete and a barrier to learning as well as to
understanding. The fact that we are shifting from a
Cartesian view of the universe, in. which the accent has
been on parts and elements, to a configuration view, with
the emphasis on wholes and patterns, challenges every single.
dividing line between areas of study and knowledge.
Benjamin Lee Whorf: Language, Thought and Reality (1956, p. 84):
The possibilities open to thinking are the possibilities
of recognizing relationships and the discovery of techniques
of operating with relationships on the mental or intellectual
plane, such as will in turn lead to ever wider and
more penetratingly significant systems of relationships.
René Maheu: Preface (Main Trends of Research
in the Social and Human Sciences. UNESCO, 1970, p. xxv):
One of the most significant results that should naturally
emerge from a study such as this, is the presentation of a
chart -- admittedly provisional and subject to constant
revision -- of the strong points and weak points of interdisciplinary
cooperation and of their substrates, and the
identification of priority areas to which research scientists
should direct their thinking and. institutions their
Geoffrey Vickers: Value Systems and Social Process.
Like the life form's of the physical world, the dreams of
men spread and colonize their inner world, clash, excite,
modify and destroy each other, or preserve their stability
by making strange accommodations with their rivals. So
I regard it as a legitimate analogy, though not, of course,
an exact one, to speak of our interpretative system --
I call it on appreciative system -- as an ecological
system, even though the laws which order and develop a
population of ideas (conflicting, competing, and mutually
supporting) in communicating minds are different from
those which order and develop a population of monkeys
in a rain forest or of insects under a paving stone.
Every field of activity, politics,
law, and not least science, like every society, has its own
stability to guard. (p. 182)
René Maheu: Directeur Général da 1'UNESCO, 15e Conférence Générale, Comptes rendus des débats (1968):
L'uniformité croissante de la terminologie éthique que l'on remarque dans les réunions internationales, où elle facilite assurément les communications formelles et les ententes apparentes, ne doit pas nous abuser, Derrière le mur de brouillard des mots, la diversité, voire l'opposition des interprétations, des motivations et des utilisations divisent profondément les esprits et, a la faveur de cette confusion, les droits universels sont bien plus souvent invoqués comme une armes offensive ou défensive contre autrui que reconnus et pratiqués comme la route royale de l'union de soi et d'autrui en une fraternité objective.
Chuang Tzu (4th century B.C.): From Chuang Tzu: Genius of the Absurd, arranged from the work of James Legge, by C Waltham. Ace Books, page 50 and 72.)
Thus is affirmed now life and now death, now death and now life; now the admissibility of a thing and now its inadmissibility, now its inadmissibility and now its admissibility. The disputants now affirm and now deny, now deny and now affirm. Therefore the sagely man does not pursue this method but views things in the light of his heavenly nature, and hence forms his judgment of what is
Words are like the waves acted on by the wind: the real point of the matters discussed by them is lost. The wind and waves are easily set in motion; the success of the matter of which the real point is lost is easily put in peril. Hence quarrels are occasioned by nothing so much as by artful words and one-sided speeches.
Preface: This report has been prepared for the Committee on Conceptual
and Terminological Analysis (COCTA) of the International Political
Science Association. It constitute a much-expanded
version of' a set of notes which were discussed in relation to
proposals in COCTA Working Paper No. 1 (prepared by Fred Riggs,
Secretary of' COCTA), and in the COCTA Manifesto (prepared by
Giovanni Sartori, Chairman of COCTA and Fred Riggs) at a meeting sponsored by the international Studies Association and held,
on the invitation of the Rockefeller Foundation, at the Villa
Serbelloni (Bellagio, Italy, 1-5 September 1971).
Although COCTA currently derives its main support from the political science field, it is intended that its approach should
if possible be made relevant to a broad range of social sciences.
This report has therefore been written in such a way as to make
the design useful to a variety. of disciplines and users.
In order to achieve this, a very simple approach has bean. adopted
which results, from a computer-level perspective, in a
means of handling any entities or relationships. In this report,
the stress has been placed on concepts, theoretical constructs,
etc. It could equally well handle (i) organizations,
and other social system entities and relationships, (ii) real "world problems" and their relationships, or possibly (iii)
personal belief's and their interrelationships.
The computer approach suggested here is in fact the simplification and modification of one developed by the author for the
Union of International Associations with a view to creating a
data bank of entities significant to the international system,
based initially on the contents of the Yearbook of International
Organizations. The problems of concept-handling arose in
the treatment of organization program concerns.
This work also suggested a more systemic approach to education
about the interrelationships between fields of knowledge and
activity as well as the profitability of handling and analyzing information on interlinking "world problems", in conjunction with the production of a Yearbook of World Problems (What is a World Problem?, International
Associations, 1971; Jere W. Clark and Anthony Judge, Development of Trans-disciplinary Conceptual Aids,
The possibilities of this computer approach may in fact be most
quickly recognized and funded in studies of entities in natural
environment systems where the representation of complex interlinking
''food chains and "food webs" has to date, posed an insurmountable
problem (O. Pimentel, Complexity of ecological systems and problems
in their study and management. In: Systems Analysis in Ecology, 1966).
The use of the interactive graphics
techniques suggested here, and for which a demonstration film has
been prepared, may constitute a breakthrough in handling
organized complexity (Anthony Judge, Visualization of Organization,16mm film, 1970). Hopefully it will be possible for groups
interested in the different uses of the same type of network
analysis computer program to work together in building up a
case for funding -- particularly in the case of the graphics
This report makes reference to activities and. techniques in a
wide spread of domains, Clearly the author can claim no special
competence in all these domains. It is nevertheless important
to juxtapose material from such different sources rather than
simply provide a bibliographical citation, particularly as much
of it is relatively inaccessible. A number of the Appendices
are therefore summaries, partial extracts, or commented extracts
from published material. It is hoped that this approach will
facilitate the reader 's task of appreciating the many facets of
Introduction: This report addresses itself to the practical problems of developing
a means of filing concepts and other theoretical constructs
in a data bank. Such concepts u1ould be filed in terms of their
meaning and not in terms of the word by which they happen to be
represented in a particular school of thought. The reason for
this approach is that many of the words on u1hich most reliance
is placed in the social sciences (e.g. "group", .class", "power",
or "structure") have acquired a multiplicity of overlapping
meanings (Fred W, Riggs, Concepts, Words and Terminology,
University of Hawaii, Social Science Research Institute, 1971, COCTA
Working Paper #1;
Giovanni Sartori, Concept Misinformation in Comparative Politics,
American Political Science Review, 64, December 1970,
The concept file so created would be used to generate lists, to
facilitate classification and interrelation of concepts to produce
concept thesauri, and, finally, to facilitate the allocation
of "authoritative" terms to permit the production of terminological thesauri.
The object of this project would be to ensure that any qualified
person -- with a few safeguards -- would be free to register entities
in the file which would then become available for secondary
analysis at any interested research centre,
One form such analysis might take would be the construction and
comparison of various models or classification schemes for theoretical
entities. At a tertiary level, efforts could be made
to link such entities with each other, cutting across the boundaries
of disciplines, ideologies, epistemological approaches,
paradigms or problems. This activity would provide new alternative
means of approaching the entities held on the file but would
not affect their use for more restricted purposes.
In this report particular attention has been paid to some of the
techniques available to analyze complex entity networks or structures.
Because of this complexity and the problems of comprehending
it, the use of interactive computer graphics has been examined as a powerful means of simplifying the task and making the
project more widely significant.
Appendices [only available as separate searchable PDF documents, as noted below, or in the complete PDF version]
A. Project organization (Appendix A)
- Organization of project A1
- Classification and modelling A2
- Types of model A3
- Types of entity included A4
- Types of relationship included A5
- Data to be included on each entity A6
- Limitation of scope A7
- Concept notation in documents A8
B. Computer techniques (Appendix B)
- Computer record handling software B1
- The ADMINS computer system B2
- Use of interactive graphic display techniques B3
- Online specification of possible graphics demonstration programs B4
C. Methods of representation and analysis (Appendix C)
- Representation of concept networks using graph theory C1
- Relationship to artificial intelligence projects C2
- Relationship to personal construct evaluation techniques C3
- Semantic matrices C4
- Use of input/output analysis C5
D. Earlier initiatives and sources of concepts (Appendix D)
- Related and earlier attempts at
concept coding D1
- Conceptual dictionaries D2
- Relationship to citation
indexing method D3
- Relationship to the U.D.C./
Dewey classification schemes D4
- Relationship to the UN/OECD
Aligned List of Descriptors D5
- Relationship to the UNISIST
proposals for a World Science
Information System D6
- The Shepherd's Citator Coding
- Use of the International
Standard Book Numbering technique D8
- Sources for social science
- International organizations
possibly interested D10
- Relationship to the SATCOM
- International Center for the
Terminology of the Social
E. Language and knowledge considerations (Appendix E)
- The Concept of semantic fields E1
- Use of several languages and
translation problems E2
- A discipline's model as a "language" E3
- Knowledge, information, and
- Knowledge dynamics E5
F. Future possibilities (Appendix F)
- Future prospects: an ideal
knowledge-representation system F1
1. Project Objectives: A project to handle, structure, and analyze theoretical
constructs is proposed which would be operated as three
a concept-filing phase leading to the creation
and maintenance of concept inventories; a concept classification phase, leading to the
production of concept thesauri; a term-allocation phase, leading to the production
of standardized terminological thesauri.
A translation phase, to make the project more widely relevant,
would run in parallel with the above three. Each
succeeding phase builds on the previous one, but need not
necessarily follow it immediately in time for the project as a whole to be of value.
- Concept Inventory Phase:
A computer-based concept registration or tagging system
should be set up which would allocate sequence numbers
to concepts on a continuing basis. The criteria for concept
registration should be kept to a minimum to ensure that
the system remains "open" to a wide variety of users and
This approach permits rapid inclusion and organization of
the data and rapid production of updated concept lists.
These would facilitate the scrutiny of the data in various phases and in terms of the perceptions of different
- Concept Classification Phase:
Evaluation, classification and identification of concept
interrelationships would be made independently by a limited
number of contributing groups, possibly associated
organizationally with the international academic bodies.
These groups would be primarily concerned with allocating
codes to be fed back to the computer system so that ordered
and refined concept thesauri could be produced to reflect
the perceptions and needs of the contributing groups. An
important aspect of this coding function by groups would
be the rejection of those conceptions registered which
are considered to be of little value to the group's
From the computer data handling point of view, each contributing
group would be building, refining, and maintaining
its own "model". Each such model would be handled as
an independent optional qualifier on the sequentially-ordered concept list.
From the point of view of any such group. group, the computer system would be viewed as holding the concepts in which it is interested in the order of its own preferred classification scheme.
There would of course be the opportunity at any time to
look at the same concept list through the classification
scheme of any other contributing school of' thought. Concepts
would be identified by their sequential number plus
a number which would identify the model employed.
- Term Allocation Phase:
At a later stage users of one model might find it useful
to produce an ."authoritative" list of terms to be used
for those concepts of interest to them. This could also
be incorporated into the computer system. Such terms
could then be used to produce standard terminological
thesauri for the users of one model.
2. Project Organization
- The general organization of the project is outlined in
- The problems of classification or modelling of conceptual
entities and the advantages of a sequence number are examined in Appendix A2. The project is conceived aa being or
use in a variety of domains. A summary is given of the
range of possible conceptual entities (Appendix A4), relationships between entities (Appendix A5), types of entity
classification scheme or model (Appendix A3), and data
to be incorporated on each entity (Appendix A6). Priorities
are suggested in order to limit the scope of the project
(Appendix A7). A standard form of concept notation for
use in print, but independent of the operation of the
system, is suggested (Appendix A8).
Each contributing group may wish to distinguish 'differently
between, or interrelate, the "entities" tagged in the
computer sequential register. There is no reason why
"concepts", "propositions", "relationships", "problems", etc
. should not all be treated as entities and appropriately
distinguished and interrelated (or ignored and rejected)
at the modelling phase. It might, for example, be particularly valuable to include "theories", ''frameworks of
inquiry", etc by first giving each a sequential number
(as indicated above} and then (in the modelling phase) relating them to the major variables considered significant
and necessary to define the frame of discourse associated
with that theoretical viewpoint.
This would permit the same system to handle concept thesauri,
inventories of propositions, inventories of problems, etc.
- Once the concept, registration system is running smoothly
and the professional groups are interacting effectively with the system to feedback their classification of the concepts
within their own models, other groups of different levels
of "multi-disciplinarity" may constitute themselves to work
on the integration into "meta-models" of two or more of
the models already produced (e,g for political science and
sociology into a social science model).
- There is no reason why, for example, a copy (on computer
magnetic tape) of the concept list and various models
should not be made available to universities for comparative
research on the models or as a tool in the educational
process. Alternative models could be constructed which
could be made generally available.
With respect to research, it is clearly important to enable
the user to examine the thesauri at different levels of
abstraction by introducing filters. In addition there is
the possibility of comparative study of the manner in
which different disciplines perceive and interrelate phenomena.
With respect to education, it is possible to develop educational meta-models which would permit selection of concepts
by filters corresponding to different educational
levels (e.g. an "atom" may be viewed as a billiard-ball
type structure in the elementary stages, a miniature solar system, a system of electrically-charged potential clouds
or, in the final stage, as something which can only be
described with mathematical symbols), At each level a
precise definition in the appropriate terms could be
provided. In addition the approach could permit individual
students to create their own concept thesaurus and to
learn from the differences between their own and those of
3. Computer Techniques
- The outline. of the design of a suitable computer record
is given in Appendix A6. Suitable record~handling software is discussed in Appendix B1. Particular attention
should be paid to the approach used by the team at the M.I.T. Center for International Studies (Appendix B2).
- The graph theory techniques mentioned in the next section
(4) suggest the need for more powerful ways of displaying
and interacting with the network of theoretical constructs
represented in computer memory -- in order to avoid the
necessity to generate long, indigestible, and impenetrable
lists (however ordered). The use of the interactive
computer graphics technique for this purpose is examined
in Appendix B3. Suggestions for the design of suitable
graphics demonstration programs are made in Appendix B4.
- It should be stressed that the basic programs required to
operate the filing and listing functions are very simple and could be produced without making use of any sophisticated
techniques or computers.
Some of these more sophisticated techniques have been
discussed to give some idea of the analytical possibilities.
In fact there is no reason why some institutes
should not use the file in its simple form whilst others
convert it into a more complex form.
4. Methods of Representation and Analysis
Particular attention has been given to the use of' graph
theoretical methods to handle the complex theoretical
constructs (Appendix C1 )
- Graph theory and related techniques have been used in the
fields of artificial intelligence (Appendix C2), personal
constructs (Appendix C3), input/output analysis (Appendix
C5), and semantic matrices (Appendix C4), These particular uses are closely related to those possible in connection with this project and represent areas from which
analytical techniques and computer programs may be obtained and adapted.
5. Earlier Initiatives and Sources of Concepts
- There have of' course been many previous initiatives in
this field. Some of these are discussed in Appendix D1. Efforts to develop conceptual dictionaries are
discussed in Appendix D2.
- A number of different techniques and proposals are discussed
to establish the special focus of this project
in relation to them -- citation indexing (Appendix D3, D7),
the Universal Decimal Classification and Dewey systems
(Appendix D4), the Aligned List of Descriptors (Appendix
D5), the UNISIST World Science Information System (Appendix
D6), the International Standard. Book Numbering Technique
(Appendix D8), and the SATCOM recommendations (Appendix D11).
- Sources for the social science concepts required for this
project are suggested in Appendix D9. A list of organizations, mainly international, which might be interested
in one or more aspects of this project is given in Appendix
6. General Considerations
Most earlier initiatives and proposals examined seem to fall
foul on one or more of the following difficulties:
- The simple and unambiguous administrative task of filing
entities is merged into the complex intellectual task of
coding and classifying them. This makes the whole project
lengthy, costly, and complex.
In this project the identification of entities to be
included in a thesaurus, and the practical problems of
incorporating these entities into an information system, are distinguished from the theoretical problems of
classifying and interrelating such entities. . The
first is a relatively fast and unskilled operation and
the second is a relatively slow arid skilled one. The
technique of denitrifying the entity within the system
by a numerical tag derived from a classification scheme
The savings in labor associated with this technique are
only significant .in a system in which all operations
are manual. Where computers can be used, the two
types of operation can be distinguished in order to
save resources, speed up operations and increase the
flexibility of reconceptualization of any classification
- The classification of theoretical constructs may be associated with an intellectual and material investment in
a document physical-location system. This opposes any .
flexibility or major reconceptualization of' relationships
In this project there is no direct relationship between
the classification scheme(s) and the physical problem
of locating source documents.
- The classification scheme may be rigid and "final", based upon a high commitment to a particular set of theoretical
assumptions of limited comprehensiveness, and therefore
unable to adapt to new types of interrelationships.
In this project both rigid and rapidly evolving classification
schemes can be used to interrelate the entities
- The classification scheme may be exclusive .or "inhospitable" and therefore of limited use.
In this project both exclusive and hospitable schemes may be used. This gives it a wide range of uses.
- Some systems are specifically designed with the special
problems of a particular field of knowledge in mind. This
makes them difficult to use in other areas. In this project specialized and general overdesigning
of the information handling system to meet immediately perceived
needs would reduce its usefulness and relevance
to others and therefore increase the difficulty of ensuring adequate funds over a long period. (The degree of "hygiene" introduced may be inversely proportional to the utility of relevance of the system to potential
- Exclusive or rigid schemes, once created, are viewed and
defended as unique and "universally applicable" by their
proposers, thus eliminating any possibility of more comprehensiveness,
better-funded, joint efforts.
In this project, every effort has been made to ensure
that it does not become associated with particular
schools of thought, organizations or personalities who
might resent criticism of their perspective and alienate
potential collaborators. All such individualism is
contained within the model building activity which does
not jeopardize other models or the project as a whole.
- Even adequate universal schemes may become viewed as authoritarian
and a vehicle for some form of conceptual imperialism. Unfortunately the organization of relations between
entities is equated with the imposition of a new set of
relations. The organizers are perceived as acquiring power.
Such systems may give rise to a proliferation of competing
alternatives for groups of users with slightly different
perspectives on subject areas (e.g. UDC, Dewey and UN/OECD
Aligned List of Descriptors) who need a tool with slightly
different properties. (see 6.6).
- The actual procedures for incorporating new entities into
any "approved" list within the system may appear bureaucratic
and stultifying unless the system is user-oriented,
There is therefore the old problem of minimizing the bureaucratic
desire for due process and order and maximizing
user participation. In this project suggestions have been made concerning
means of maximizing user participation.
- The system may be designed with only one type of user in
mind, e.g. scholars or students. New systems, which compete
for the same resources, then have to be created for other
users of the same data. In this project some consideration has been given to
methods of introducing "filters" in conjunction with
special modals in order to show special relationships
between entities in a manner significant to other types
Some of the needs of users not immersed in the Western
cultural perspective have also been considered.
- The notation used to indicate the position of an entity in
a classification scheme may be very complex. This may make
data handling very difficult. In this project it is not necessary to use a notation
in order to file the entity. Only a simple sequence
number is required. To indicate its position in a given
model, cross-references are inserted which again take
the form of simple sequence numbers. In some models
the entity may to defined by its relationship context,
rather that by any special notation which users are free
to add. A standard notation for use in print, but independent
of the organization of the system, is suggested
in Appendix A8.
- The system may be viewed as a "one-shot" job using all the
appropriate specialists. This is the case with some conceptual
directories. Even so, non-participants criticize the
position taken by the participants, thus suggesting the need
for new projects.
In this project it is not necessary to limit classification
to the views of one specialist. A number of competing
specialists can participate together or separately
without jeopardizing the ability of the system to adapt
and respond to new proposals
- Shysters may be slow (up to decades) in responding to proposals
for change, to the point of acting as a constraint on
innovation to those dependent upon them.
In this project modifications and alternatives can be
handled without difficulty.
- A system proposal may raise problems of standardization for
purposes of handling bibliographical or other data. The system design may then become a pawn in the debate between
the different schools of standardization and information
In this project there are no features which could become
a major issue in the ongoing debate, since it is not
a conventional documentation system and does not have
major bibliographical concerns.
- A system proposal may become a pawn in the debate between
different schools of classification.
-In this project alternative classification systems may
- A system proposal may constitute a threat to other systems
competing for the same resources -- particularly if major
changes are proposed for existing systems.
This project does not appear to compete with other
systems. It can be considered complementary to some
- A system may demand, or be designed for, complex computer
systems to the point of being unuseable in less-richly-endowed
This project is based on a very simple filing system for entities and and relationships between them. The
resulting file may however then be subjected to ;analyses of varying power depending on the computer environment
- A system design may raise fundamental theoretical issues,
and therefore alienate important potantia1 supporters.
In this project the accent is. on providing a simple
.for filing entities and relationships in a
way which permits a number of general analytical and
display techniques to be used. Every effort has
been mode to avoid giving a final and exclusive definition of what ia incorporated.. Such theoretical
debates are carefully confined to the activities of
modelling groups which are each free to ignore or accept
entities and relationships filed by other modelling
- A system may raise difficulties concerning the status of
the entities handled as "knowledge" or in relation to
language and semantics. The description of this project -- but not its operation--
is paradoxically subject to many of the terminological problems it is intended to solve. An attempt has therefore
been. made to discuss semantic fields (Appendix E1), problems of language. and translation (Appendix E2), the
status of a discipline as a language (Appendix E3), the
relationship between knowledge and information (Appendix
E4), and knowledge as a evolving structure (Appendix
E5). The problems of natural language information processing
have been avoided.
7. Future significance:
This report attempts to lay great stress on the distinction
between a document-oriented information system and what has
been termed a knowledge-representation system. This project
is considered to be a step to words more effective knowledge~representation.
To clarify the distinction even further, and
to show the possible future significance of this effort, an
attempt has been made.in Appendix F1 to compare an ideal document system with an ideal knowledge-representation system.
8. Next step and funding required:
The phasing of the project is discussed in Appendix A1. The
next step is to obtain critical comments on the various proposals put forward and to undertake pilot projects in some cf
the following areas:
- file organization and computer program development or adaptation
- operational and logical problems of classification with
models in a few test areas
- computer simulation of file movement, modelling activity and behavioral complications in a decentralized, minimum-organization environment
- computer simulation of different strategies to keep the
system "open" without it becoming uncontrollable
- preparation of a graphics demonstration program as means
of generating further interest and showing the power of
Exactly how much pilot project activity
is required will depend upon the speed with which it is desired
that the project as a whole should move forward and the range
of interests that it is desired that the project should serve.
These must be decided.
No comments have been made on the funding required since
cost estimation depends on decisions taken for the next.
stage. The computer programs envisaged for the filing of
entities and relationships and generation of lists and thesauri
are however fairly simple to prepare and cheap to run. The
other major costs would be collection of conceptual entitles
(unless done voluntarily by a team using existing material),
administration (unless incorporated within the budget of some
existing institute), and travel costs of those concerned with
modelling (unless it was decided to switch immediately to the postal modelling concept outlined in Appendix A1).
A list. of organizations, mainly international, through which
further support might be obtained for this project, is given
in Appendix D10.