* Posts by Graham Orr

12 posts • joined 8 Aug 2008

Why is information delivery so bloody hard?

Graham Orr
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Interesting. Yesterday I sat, in my office in the cellar, coffee at the ready, fag dribbling ash and smoke, and commented, aloud, upon your argument, offering counter argument.

Regarding understanding of a message sent being only in the gift of the recipent, and this is an extreme example, I think I rest my case.

But let us return, if you wish, to the more mundane aspects of the original article predicated upon the notion that if one corrals the data all will be well. You sound like someone who has had some experience in this area. My own experience is limited to a number of middling to large projects which I found to be useful in their beginning but which quickly atrophied into the 'system', never to be tinkered with, or the 'system' to be circumvented at every opportunity. It really seemed to depend upon for whom the electronic bell tolls - the less autonomy allowed to the user the greater the benefit (SOPs being for the obedience of fools and the guidance of wise men - you will understand of course that I do not really mean all that obey are fools - it is just an idiom).

As Bacon is alleged to have stated: Knowledge is Power. So a KM system is doomed from the start, particularly in an economic crisis, if what I know is the measure of my personal indispensability. However if what is being discussed is a better way of making data available - even something simple, say a bus timetable - then data management systems can add value if they are used and, somewhat perversely, also destroy value. Ever been at the receiving end of a script-constrained call-centre operator with a barely comprehensible Indian accent? And why was that Little Britain sketch about the mortgage agent ("Computer says no") so funny?

It has been my experience that such a Taylorist approach demands a Lean environment with regard to the generation and passage of 'information' (the common understanding of the term). Left to themselves people will use a communication system for all sorts of things that merely create 'noise' - how many emails have you had recently about Sarah's new baby? A KM regime often demands a regimented approach to the allowable use of data distribution media - with some companies banning the use of email altogether and demanding that important matters be consigned to paper since so much time was being 'wasted' sending inconsequential (in terms of the business at hand) messages.

I would be interested in your views on how data management systems can, or cannot, add value to an organisation. Or we can let the matter rest and I have enjoyed reading your arguments and look forward to reading more of what you post here, or elsewhere on the website.



Graham Orr
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There you go now see? There's a perfect example of the second possibility in your first paragraph. I understand all of the words and believe, having interpreted the data, that it forms some element of information. Perhaps you missed the point of the third possibility: if a source of data is not able to be interpreted as information THAT is the perfectly understood element: it does not contain disernable information. Where the fig leaf comes from is a mystery unless your allusion is to the Garden of Eden in the belief that belief must, of necessity, relate to the numinous. My definition of knowledge is a source of data, personally held, which can be recalled either voluntarily (Polanyi's explicit dimension) or involuntarily (the tacit dimension) to form information when combined with external (to me) data. Belief is what I think I know (explicit) and it is not what I do not know I know (tacit). And I know I am scared of spiders but have no real idea why.

Most, if not all, 'knowledge management' (KM) projects are a mixture of tidying up the messy boy's room and the wish to control the workforce: If only we knew what THEY know to paraphrase Polanyi. But since the World is a constantly changing environment such an aim is the equivalent to trying to nail down a swarm of eels; might get a couple but the rest.........

People, not machines, can deal with black, white and shades of grey in terms of data interpretation: machines deal in black and white only - when was the last (first!) time a computer gave 'maybe' or 'depends' as the result of a query? Oh and fuzzy logic does not allow a machine to deal in shades of grey, it just means slice the black and white up faster and into smaller bits (or should that be take smaller bytes faster?).

It is a great pity that Data Technology was not used to define computers instead of Information Technology, after all the automobile is not commonly described as Journey Technology. Or am I boxing myself in a corner here - after all the data technology does allow a human to create information <grin> Ah but wait, JT does not come ready packaged with predetermined routes, only a KM system trys to achieve that and, if successful, places the organisation on rails.

Perhaps we ought to extend the analogy: data technology is an essential tool (automobile) that allows an organisation to go from A to B without necessarily prescribing the route; KM on the other hand is a railway; in many ways more efficient than automobile (more can get there for less cost eventually, once development expenditures are absorbed) but with less flexibility. Organisations are probably better advised to develop the abilities of their staff to think rather than spend money on defeating the natural disorder of things.

BTW if the data source contains no signal it is not a data source. But you knew that <grin>

Thumbs Up cos you also made me think.

Graham Orr
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@anon coward aka Claude Shannon

I cannot agree that my use of the term ‘understand’, in terms of data, is not fit for purpose. How else is understanding to be treated if not a matter of logical deduction or inspirational (perhaps not in many cases) induction?

As I stated earlier there are three possibilities; you are right, this distinction is crude. And I delight in its simplicity – that is what you meant is it not? You did not mean rough or unfinished by any chance? <grin> There still remain three possibilities: belief that the data can form information, belief that the data can form some element of information and the belief that the data forms no information. The second possibility clearly implies that some of the data may not be intelligible whilst some has formed information in the mind of the creator. And you will have realised that I hold belief = knowledge. Is that what you alluded to – the notion that belief is not knowledge?

To relate these three possibilities to the subject of this forum, it looks to me that the IT jocks favour the first, pragmatic managers look to the second and harassed workers firmly follow the third when consideration is given to the use of data management tools. Users too busy to use/enter data on a data management system ought to be lionised, not pilloried, for the truth is that they are the information system. The distain often shown reflects apparent lack of applicability of, or lack of intelligibility of, the data held in the data repository (book, file, computer etc). I use the term apparent deliberately, there must be cases where the data repository does reflect the needs of the user. But then, as has been said, SOPs are for the guidance of wise men and the obedience of fools.

Organisations get more out of training their employees to think than in foisting a Taylorist notion of ‘efficiency’ in the guise of a data repository with menacing electrons.

Thumbs up cos you made me think.

Graham Orr
Gates Horns

Data. You mean the collation and delivery of data.

You are discussing the collection and dissemination of data, not information. Information is what human beings create for themselves - at a given moment in time and for no one else - from the interpretation of data. When you open your gob and speak all you are sending is data, which will be interpreted by the recipient into their personal form of understanding. Ditto when you write an article to appear on the sheet/screen. Were this not so then the word 'misunderstood' would have no meaning.

Actually, pushing the envelope of misunderstanding toward the end of the day where the ducks line up in a row against a clear blue sky of lateral thinking, there is no such thing as 'misunderstanding'. One always understands the data perfectly; either perfectly in the belief that the information is understood or perfectly in the belief that the data generates some information or perfectly in the belief that the data is unable to be interpreted as information.

Oh and of course, information is only useful 'in this place, at this time, with these people, with these things'. Change any of these parameters and the information requirement differs. You can't store information, you can only generate and use it. Of course this viewpoint means that knowledge is not information but merely data, able to be recalled by a human (or possibly other sentient beings, say the dolphins) to be applied in the generation of information with which to act in a given situation.

As for the untidy kid.....it's called the internet.

Bill, cos he knows 640kb is enough RAM for anyone......but sends a different message

When does a system become legacy?

Graham Orr


Loved the matrices but might I suggest:

HH High business and High technology = retain but expect it to migrate to LH

HL High business and Low technology = retain even more so than the High/High - it is costing the business less - or is the point of the matrix to identify more opportunities for IT specialists to gain employment lol

LH Low business and High technology = dump

LL Low business and Low Technology = invest to move it to HL

Good to see asset management being conducted, too many organisations 'fire and forget'

The Pope predicted economic Armageddon back in 1985

Graham Orr
Paris Hilton


I seem to recall some tale about building a house on sand. He's the rep on Earth but to nick the Boss's (or is that Bosses'......or Bos'ses' ?) idea smacks of copyright theft ......

@Anon Coward (earlier today) - Max Weber coined the term Protestant Work Ethic when considering the remarkable tendency of Southern European Catholics to adopt an ethic of hard work following migration to the USA, rather than the alleged laid-back indolence premised on finding a priest and receiving absolution just before popping-off thus by-passing any need to build up a stock of credit to ensure entry into Heaven. So it actually applies to a Catholic, sans eternal incentive, rather than a Prod-estant since the latter is not going to get into the 'proper' one anyway, just some disinfectant-smelling, magnolia-painted waiting room......good enough for the Calvanists, trying to build a Heaven on Earth....magnolia? MAGNOLIA! To damned good for 'em.

No, wait, something's (or is that some'things?) not right.......granting credit to souls that cannot (or is that can't ?) afford it.....no wonder the Pontif spake, bloody Calvanists, trying to hijack catholic strategies. Serious danger of confusing a throughly catholic ethical stance with the spirit of capitalism (or is that Calvanism? Or capital'ism?)........after all absolution is just a hand-wave away and even a Prod can recant. Phew, saved in the nick of time.

Paris - cos she's (or is that sh'e's, or she is?) obscenely rich.

BNP leaked list claims first victims

Graham Orr
Paris Hilton

By Chrimbo I's found it!

Chings Help Ma Bob. I has detectivated the stolen Crimbo case. The prime suspect is a big proto-political organisation, got a lot of out of town marketplaces, complete wif parking places, and millions of card-carrying members. Not me. Any club that would have me I wouldn't want to join to paraphrase Marx. Groucho that is.

T**esco (name deliberately obfusticated to protect the rights of the Guilty Barstards) done it. And they have held it hostage since October. You can see their neferious scheming confusing the poor BNP-laden Plods searching for the kidnap victim, Mr, Mrs or Ms White Christmas, by replicating potential hiding places all over their aisles. Worse. They got the other Families to join in the diversification tactics by doing the same.

So that fella what thinks Christmas is an Autumnal event is not wrong really......

Paris, cos she only comes in the Spring time.

The Hadron Collider: What's it all about, then?

Graham Orr

I was sure that Bosons were.....

nearly exterminated by Buffalo Bill; were something navel or naval I forget which, were too small to figure much in the cosmos that is my World.

This article is confusing and makes one point: We don't really know what's going on so lets smash some more rocks together and see what sticks to the flag-pole or some other trite trash pandered as scientific research. Sounds like a candidate for the Darwin Awards along the lines of Russian roulette using an automatic pistol....

Mine is the one with the logo - 'We're Doomed'

PS do the Taliban know and are there enough virgins for all of them turning up at the same time?

CERN: LHC to fire first proton-smash ray next month

Graham Orr

Oh and I just thought of a alternative experiment.....

....you take two 17 year old pizza delivery persons in two similar (white) Vauxhall Astra Diesel Estates, two tanks full of fuel and start them off going in opposite directions around the M25. After a few laps to ramp up the accelleration and at an appropriate moment, to be decided by the boffins of CERN cos they are good at that sort of thing, the crash barriers in the middle are taken away and we see if they will somehow graviate towards each other at horrendeous speed......

Of course we would have to shut the M25 for the duration of the experiment and the cost of that would probably exceed the cost of the CERN infrastructure for their experiment......so we're quids in then, the Boffins at CERN are cheap as chips really.....

According to the LHC website (http://lhc-machine-outreach.web.cern.ch/lhc-machine-outreach/) the aim of the experiment is to:

'......smash protons moving at 99.999999% of the speed of light into each other and so recreate conditions a fraction of a second after the big bang. The LHC experiments try and work out what happened.'

Hmmm. Me, that's what happened. And you of course. And the Earth and all those other rocks and stuff. And did it occur to them that 0.000001% of the speed of light might be 0.000001% too late to draw any conclusion other than the one I just put forward? Cosmic innit?

But return the alternative experiment which suddenly appears that much more attractive. Speed of light = 1,079,252,848.80 kph so 0.000001% of that is 10.79 kph. Now given the speeds that a 17 year old in a white Vauxhall Astra Diesel Estate can attain I think we can safely offer this alternative as a means of 'bridging the gap' that the CERN experiment will leave.........

Graham Orr

@mike 10:01 and @Phil Hare 11:15 @David Pollard 10:18

Mike: Yep but they are going very, very fast and what I really want to know is whether they are going for an 'in-off' the neutron or a cannon.....I mean any poor player can just go for the hole......

Phil: It's the day AFTER my birthday so the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything was out by a decade.....the wrong way out by the way

David: It is a well established fact that the fastest thing in the universe is a 17 year old pizza delivery person driving a white Vauxhall Astra Diesel Estate......

Now here's a thing. The Ancients (some would have it we are the ancients and they are the Beginnerers) considered there to be celestial music of the spheres. You know what happens if you run your wetted finger round and round the top of a glass.....is this to be result of the experiment? The biggest musical instrument in the World? The first indication might be every dog in the world simultaneously howling.......no, wait, that's a portent of doom is it not?

Graham Orr

Banging rocks

Strange. 3,000,000 years ago (I wiki'd it so it MUST be true) scientists banged rocks together and we got cutting edge technology. 3 million years later and the rocks are still being banged together.

Suprise at spelling snafu sanctions

Graham Orr


For Anonymous Coward, Both Sides, 15:36. Your friend is indeed unfortunate to have attended higher education before testing undergraduates for dyslexia became commonplace resulting in additional time allowed in the examination hall for those so diagnosed. But one thing still puzzles me: How, in the 'real world', does he decipher the meaning of the equations in the book?

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