RE: A Simple Analogy

<- At the www9 open lunch hosted by Tim Berners Lee, he wanted
<- people to pipe up
<- about the future of the semantic web or what it might mean to
<- have one. I said
<- that one day I'd to be able to find a person to answer my
<- questions the way I
<- can find a document to answer them today. The person who took
<- the mike from me
<- cracked that he didn't have a problem finding people today.
<- Right. And there's a
<- world market for say, about 5 computers.

Hmm - ok, the person not having a problem finding people today is in a very
small minority, but I do wonder why you would want to find a person to
answer your questions when you can find a document to answer them - docs on
the web don't often ask for fees (ok, it's not that simple).

World market for 1 computer and several billion terminals?

<- On the way back from that conference I wondered what it would be
<- like to be able
<- to ask a question of a more constrained system than the entire web; say a
<- conference like www9, where you know there's a concentration of
<- smart people.

no, I'd better not...

<- Attendees could supply a description of what they're good at.
<- Code with some
<- smarts could infer what people are good at from what they're
<- speaking about or
<- what wg they're on. You'd go to the web site, type in a
<- question. The response
<- could be a hit list of people (then you'd have to make them an
<- offer they can't
<- refuse), or the question is directed in their inbox for
<- consideration a la
<- content based routing. If you had something like Erdos numbers,

Sorry - Erdos numbers?

<- people with low
<- numbers could reject questions from people who are too "far
<- away", so they don't
<- get inundated.

A while back I had a similar idea [1], though I gave up pretty quickly...

<- But there is no reason why you couldn't include mailing lists,
<- news groups,
<- community driven websites, open source projects, faqs, ... as
<- resources to be
<- asked questions. The benefit being you wouldn't have to waste a
<- lot of time
<- figuring out which ones you should ask first and then reading
<- the faq in case
<- your questions' being asked 10 times a week. And that does take
<- some time.

I strongly agree here - the ability to get an effective answer from a query
to newsgroup archives etc. would be a major global time-saver. I've heard it
argued that this is already possible if you know how to word your query
properly - nah. But if your first vague query was answered with a choice of
routes to go down ('Ask Jeeves' does something like this) and your query was
narrowed by interaction it should work (Jeeves is rather disappointing in
this respect). As long as there's a half decent agent looking at thoroughly
decent metadata - oh, do hurry up, Semweb...

 <- There are a few expert sites like this, but they're not exactly open and
<- restricted to people.
<- I guess I'm saying that mobile questions might be useful some day.

Sounds good to me. I also think that broadcasting blue sky ideas is great,
it provides something to think about, can provoke new ideas and every now
and then someone says - you can already do that with X (as long as you have
the rotary attachment).


[1] Ask at the Post Office
Mailing list with a difference. When you subscribe, you provide a list of
keywords that describe your areas of knowledge. When someone posts a query
to the list, only the people whose keywords match those of the query receive
the mail. When anyone replies to a post, the keywords in the reply are added
to that persons list (with added priority?) .

Probably needs some way of increasing the 'experts' list.
(this is the point at which I abandoned the idea ;-)

Received on Saturday, 14 April 2001 13:22:44 UTC