My Photo

Oxford England

  • The End of the Road
    These photos are separated from my Travels album because Oxford is something of a second home. I still manage to visit it several times a year. So the pathway between Manotick and Oxford is well trodden and I can likely do it with my eyes closed - and probably have on more than one occasion.

Royal Roads University

  • Hatley Castle
    This series of photographs was taken over the last few years. I have stayed at the campus of Royal Roads on several occasions and I have been repeatedly impressed by the grounds. They are in many ways a little-known treasure.


  • Kafka Statue
    Here is a selection of pictures I have taken during my travels over the last few years. I am very obviously an amateur photographer and it is not uncommon for me to forget my camera altogether when packing. What the pictures do not convey is the fact that in these travels I have met, and gotten to know, a great many interesting people.

Manotick Ontario

  • Springtime in Manotick
    Manotick Ontario Canada is the part of Ottawa that I call home. Much of Manotick stands on an island in the Rideau River. Interestingly, the Rideau Canal, which runs through and around the river, was recently designated a World Heritage Site by the United Nations. So this means that the view from my backyard is in some way on a similar par with the Egyptian Pyramids - although the thought strikes me as ridiculous.
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« The Seven Professional Arts | Main | The Challenge of Managing Intelligent Content »

January 20, 2010


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Milan Davidovic

In your definition, that phrase "in an open way" is interesting. Is it meant to indicate that the expression by the content of the full underlying meaning should transcend context?

(hmmm, that didn't come out quite right; I need an example... )

Consider a plain, untagged text file of "The Republic" sitting on a server, and then consider various readers who might open that file -- a philosopher, a classicist, a network technician (let's assume s/he's not a philosophy or classics enthusiast), a technical communicator, and perhaps others. Would you consider the content equally (un)intelligent across all these contexts?

Milan Davidovic

PS. I haven't read the full paper; perhaps if I went away and did that I'd find the answer there; it may be that "intelligence" of content has more to do with how non-human systems "perceive" the content.

Joe Gollner

Hi Milan

This is a very interesting point you raise. I am reminded of the careful distinction, or qualification, that Claude Shannon made with respect to "information theory" - emphasizing that his use of the term "information" bore effectively no relation to the common usage of the term. As such, information theory is blind to the import or content of messages.

By a similar token, in discussing intelligent content we are looking at its technical accessibility and amenability to processing. This will ultimately have a bearing upon how people will perceive the content because it will determine the range and refinement of rendition options available. So whether it is Plato or Pulp Fiction, if it is in an unintelligent format (let's pick on MS Word), then there will be a limited number of ways I will be able to share it. This will materially impact how it is perceived, or at least how widely it is perceived. The question of the value or quality of the content's import does not, at least at this point, come into it.

If the value of the content is substantial, and this I would tend to align with what in my Content Fusion presentation I called the "semantic depth" of the content, then the value of elevated content intelligence will be higher (and with it the return on the investment needed to realize that elevated intelligence level). I would likely continue to ruminate on whether it would be possible to show that the sophistication of the patterns in high quality content will be higher (data, information and knowledge manifestations) and that this might actually provide some quantitative support to our preference for Plato over Pulp Fiction (with this preference being measured over time so that short term infatuation has a chance to dissipate). This might be an interesting path to explore or it could be a bog from which we may never escape. So in considering whether or not to continue, I will say "after you"...

Milan Davidovic

Ah, I made it look as though I picked up on the wrong sense of "intelligence". Pulp Fiction, in fact, would have worked just as well (no shortage of semantic depth in Tarentino's work, I think; just of a different sort than Plato's). I was simply after an example from which different readers would extract different sorts and amounts of value (owing to their different background knowledge, experience, mental schema, and so on), and I may have been on my way to an analogy between those readers and the different technological systems that might encounter a piece of content.

But then I read your paper (good stuff, by the way) and I think I now have a better grip on "intelligence" as it relates to content.


Joe Gollner

And I think I was being a little to glib in my response. I think that there are some very interesting paths to be followed by developing the analogy between the behaviour (perception and interpretation) of people and applications as they encounter content with differing levels of intelligence. In the act of encounter, there is definitely a sense in which the effective level of intelligence is being determined by the behaviour (or capability) of the interpreting "agent". On the other side of the equation, there is also a sense in which content exhibiting high levels of integral intelligence (if we allow ourselves to step over to that side of the equation) might be able to maintain decent levels of value across a wide array of agents (being able to work, as it were, with a range of capabilities). I think I have some more thinking to do about this. Thanks a lot for this Milan.

Joe Gollner

Just so I don't forget it, I thought I should register a minor adjustment to the definition of Intelligent Content:

"Intelligence refers to the ability to acquire and apply knowledge (normally a quality attributed to people but not exclusively), or to a collection of information of value in a particular context (OED). Content can be considered intelligent when it expresses, in an open way, the salient meaning underlying a communication such that the data, information and knowledge being expressed can be easily accessed and effectively leveraged by both people and the software applications that support them."

Replacing "full meaning" with "salient meaning" helps to apply a little stress to the fact that what we are focusing on is the meaning that is relevant in a given context - with relevance being derived from the overall goals of the organization or individual originating the content and from the hopefully related goals of the recipient organizations and individuals. It somewhat follows that what meaning will be salient will change in different contexts and over time - and that is quite appropriate.

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