Monday, August 01, 2005

Communication and Human MarkUp Language

Technology is for human use. It is designed to satisfy some human needs and to aid people in reaching their goals. Technology, therefore, is a part of human activities and, for this reason alone, it should always be considered within the context of human life, the human experience.

This basic credo forms the foundation for the concept of human technology. Instead of seeing technology as a construction following the laws of nature, the challenge of human technology is to explore and understand how humanist and social research can contribute to the conceptualization and implementation of technology.

Human markup language (HumanML) is one possible technology for addressing some of these critical aspects of communication. This is cool - so listen up.

I am not just intending to expound upon a vision but we should look at how HumanML may play a role in doing so and how it may be applied in the government and private sectors to improve overall collaboration.

Some of the questions that the use of HumanML could hopefully address are: Is the retrieved document informational in nature? Is it intended as policy, as advertisement, propaganda or some other purpose? At the point in history of document creation, what was the unstated motivation to create and publish it? What was the author's attitude toward the subject?

How to avoid accidental release of protected information by ignoring or forgetting to include external markings? How to avoid distortion of original meaning or intent whether intentional or not? How to understand cross-culturally and interpret specialized lingo such as "governmentese" in current layman's terms and in the current context?

Perhaps it could be said that we are living out the ancient curse: "May you live in interesting times." Civilization has largely crossed the boundary from the industrial age into the information age and is already moving beyond into an age governed by a knowledge economy. The transition has thrust "interesting times" upon us. We are struggling to cope with the chaos of an explosive growth in the flux of information and novelty that is increasingly difficult to ignore. We just can't ignore it.

We need to deal with an ever-increasing pervasive nature of change where our privacy and personal time is more challenged. We can try to run from it, but places to hide are disappearing where we might escape from an onslaught represented by variety, volume and velocity (V3) of information and change. Interesting times indeed!

Old paradigms for understanding and communicating no longer seem to serve us well and actually hinder our ability to cope. Somehow we need to find a balance between a state of being computer illiterate - viewing technology as a toy or passing fad - and a state of being unable to get through any hour of the day without worshipping at the altar of instantaneous connectivity: on the Web, on the mobile phone, instant messaging, 24-hour news broadcast - never out of sight.

But this flood is no solution ... we are coming to a state where we're drowning in information but starving for the right knowledge. Solutions are in sight.


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