Re: Knowledge versus Information

Subject: Re: Knowledge versus Information
From: Dan Brinegar <vr2link -at- VR2LINK -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 23 Apr 1998 14:59:46 -0700

>>(infopoint? knowledgenubbin?) McNuggets of Wisdom?

I believe they're already known as "chunks."

I would offer a big *SMIRK* here, and say I was only kidding, and stop
right here; but darnit, Guys, ya blew away my big plan-for-the-day to post
the military defiitions of data/information/knowledge/intelligence when
y'all pointed out that to the end user of the stuff, such fine distinctions
don't matter...

But y'know -- it occurs to me that we can make it *easier* on the end user
of whatever-it-is we're documenting if *we do* know those distinctions, so
that they don't have to spend time deciding if this is *data* or
*gospel*... is it really important? Nice to know? Will this thing blow up
if I've misunderstood some arcane block of engineerese or poetry?

F'rinstance:

Somewhere in a settings panel for "TigerMail 3.11" there's a checkbox that sez

[ ] limit email attachments to < 128k (RECOMMENDED)

Now, see, without a holistic grasp of the internet, and the limits of
1200-baud modems (let's call that _Knowledge_); to a user that's just a
data-point... *IF* they see it (and it still probably won't make sense at
first). If they don't see it, or it doesn't make sense, it's at least
obfuscating, and sometimes worse than useless.

So what do ya say to the customer-on-deadline who has just sent a TEN
MEGABYTE attachment to an AOL address and is *EXTREMELY* upset 'cos all the
recipient sees is one hundred little files of "garbage characters?"

Once the techsupport Bob stopped laughing, and handed the call over to me,
and I stopped laughing, this highly irate customer is threatening to sue
*me* 'cos I didn't put a big alert box in the manual saying "*WARNING*: Do
not attempt to sent 10 MegaByte attachments from Tigermail 3.11 to America
Online!"

[It never even occured to me that anyone would try, not on 1995's 'Net, not
with a 1200-buad modem, not to AOL, definitely not something *important*...
Can you say FederalExpress? Whose fault was it? "Rule 1) if yer users are
idiots, you're not doing your job." ]

An extreme case, I'll admit, and I've always wanted to use that story
anyway, but....

Do ya get the point? It's part of our job to take all the little minutiae
we can find, all the data, all the knowledge, all the "intelligence" we can
lay our grubby paws on and make sure the reader can understand what the
difference is...
Not because they're idiots, but because that's what the *job* is? Sure,
they won't care one way or another (unless it turns around and bites 'em),
but if we get it right, the differences between data and knowledge,
information and intelligence *will* be transparent to them, and they can go
about getting their work done with all those wonderful tools we document.

Now, let's all join hands in our Prayer for Protection... {&let SERMON = OFF}

At 11:43 AM -0700 4/23/98, Wayne Douglass wrote:
>At 02:29 PM 4/23/98 -0400, Tim Altom wrote:
>
>>We could apply a wholly new name if we wished, but that's a little extreme
>>(infopoint? knowledgenubbin?).
>
>McNuggets of Wisdom?
>
>--Wayne

-----------------------------------------------------------
Dan BRINEGAR, CCDB Vr2Link
Performance S u p p o r t Svcs.
Phoenix, Arizona

"This is not a Fat Guy confined to a wheelchair...
it's a new Telecommuter saving tons on auto insurance."




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