what's next?

A Better Tool?

In Product Ideas on August 15, 2002 at 7:23 pm

As with many computerized things, I’ve been frustrated with the commercial state of the art for software to manage information, especially personal information for quite some time. Let me provide some context to better explain.

While I’m often challenged to explain what I do, I can say it involves doing all sorts of actions on information (e.g. creating, manipluating, reasoning with, etc.). Much of my effort is in support of goals in the domains of software engineering or psychology. Given that software engineering by necessity deals with well structured sets of information, (e.g. programming code, design models, architectural models) it’s a natural place to look for mature information managment tools. In addition, there’s a healthy industry around supporting software engineering. Yet despite this, the level of tools for managing informaiton specific to software engieneering is very immature. If you look more broadly, the commercial state-of-the-art for information management is even worse.

How is information management immature? Usign the following scenario, let’s look at some gaps.

Bob is responsible for capturing informal natural language information (e.g. the beginning of the a set of software requirments) and over time hea nd others will transform it into formal models that for use by different types of audiences (e.g. users, customers, software designers, user interface designers).

What are some of the actions Bob and others will want to do with this information? Consider the following:

Refine something, i.e. take a whole and identify it’s parts. This process is very At any point, he’d like to understand relationships b
There’s an interesting process that (it’s theorized) we go through when categorizing something. As I model it, it includes the notion of distinctions: e.g. how many Essentially, the boundary of categorization is crossed when we begin to recognize distinctions. An oft used example is snow – while someone from the southern United States may have one word for (and implicitly no distinctions for) snow, an


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