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November 01, 2003


David Locke

I remember a recent book by Micheal Jackson, "Problem Frames." It was interesting because it turned from the usual focus of programming methodologies away from solutions to problems.

The pattern movement has focused on solutions. All of the software engineering discussion since Dryska has been on solutions.

But, the problem point-of-view is different from the solution point of view. One problem, many answers is the usual practice once you get outside the science classroom.

I just mentioned this, because in the strictest sense problems and solutions are not the same thing. Solutions can be seen as a product. Patterns link the two perspectives in that a pattern solves a specific problem.

At the same time the problem frame and solution frame are points of view. This means that they are ontologies with different sortables. So the question has to be asked, how does a pattern connect the two points of view? Or are patterns just an extention of the solution frame that only marginally connect to the problem.

"Dialgoue: The art of thinking together" talks about the processes involved in aligning and connecting different, irreconcilable points of view.

The various techniques in the book seem to operate on the temporal reorganization of the decision trees, so that the trees share as much commonality as possible. The solution to a war starts with "we are human," "we love our children," .... And, not "This is my piece of dirt!"


So there is some demonstrated ways to connect disparate ontologies, because they share conceptualizations. Problems and solutions are linked, but only weakly so.

It also seems that problems are social and solutions are technical. In a sense, it is analog-to-digital, or real-to-abstract. This indicates that solutions are the weaker of perspectives. Markets for solutions provide collections of these weaker solutions. People retain the problem spaces not reached by the solutions. The solutions do not entirely fill the econology of the problem. This is consistent with the notion that paradigms contain holes, from which the next paradigm will emerge.

What I see is the same kind of system that we have for law. When laws are written they are too ambiguous and too fragile. The courts use case law to expand and clarify the coverage of the problems that gave rise to the law.

So there should be in Lawrance Lessig's notion that code is law, the complementary notion that court is developement. Which from where I sit isn't served by market forces, because the market niches are too small. So how would one claimant present the case that some functionality was needed, and who would the judge, the coder, see to it that this one claimants needs be met?

David Locke

Just now, I found myself thinking about how the "knowledge must be free" crowd always struck me as not being the way to create wealth.

I know the the wealthy attend a lot of manditory parties, because that is how they earn a living. They know where to invest and who is doing those things that won't turn into cash for twenty years. They stay ahead of retail. You might say that their wealth is socially constructed. And, it is their social links that matter more than the scoring information called dollars.

So for the information they traffic in, spreading the knowledge is contrary to wealth.

But, what of patents? They work with the opposite hope and that is the widespread knowledge will create wealth. So how can these two views be understood as a single phenomenon?

Network effects. It is not the value of the node that matters, but rather the value of the network that matters.

For patents, widespread knowledge leads to more patents, and thus more value. For the wealthy, widespread knowledge leads to having more people in on the deal and thus reduced risk.

But, the wealthy don't share. Well, neither do disciplines. They share within themselves, and only at the boundaries are their interdisciplinary effects. Wealth works the same way. My boarding school educated buddy hooked me into a network of wealthy people, so it happens.

Networks end up being bound by their onlogical constraints. The concept of the universal access to the Internet, for example, illustrates that the Internet is a bound network and not as ubiquitous as it promises to be one day.

So we keep score with that informational construct we call dollars, but in all of the links is knowledge. So frameworks like Denham's tell us where knowledge can be explicated.

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